Art therapy is the use of creative forms of expression to explore one's feelings, thoughts, concerns, and problems. According to the American Art Therapy Association, "Art therapy is an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship."
Art therapy does not just mean drawing - you can use many mediums to express yourself, including painting, sculpture, collage, coloring, and more. Some conditions and circumstances in which art therapy may be a good component of your treatment plan include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Communication problems
- Grief counseling
- Anger management
- Eating disorders
- Cognitive impairments
- Substance use disorders
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Memory impairment
- Family or relationship problems
Many people who have had difficulty communicating their feelings and concerns clearly through speech or writing find that art therapy 'unlocks the door' to expressing themselves fully and getting to the root of their issues.
Art therapy can be a useful tool in improving self-esteem, enhancing cognitive functioning, developing heightened emotional resilience, improving social skills, foster self-awareness, and more. Art therapy can be especially helpful for individuals who are recovering from trauma or have an impaired ability to communicate, like those who have dementia or autism spectrum disorders. Art therapy can also help you learn new ways of processing feelings of anxiety, stress, or sadness.
Art therapy can be a one-on-one or group activity, and is used in both inpatient and outpatient treatment settings. Art therapy is appropriate for people of all ages and can be used in conjunction with other forms of therapy to help you accomplish your treatment goals.