Everyone is always asking me, what is art therapy? I always give relatively the same answer. The use of art in the counseling process, the use of creation of art for healing, communication, self-fulfillment, connection with others, etc. The creation of art in itself is healing, fulfilling, life enhancing, comforting, uplifting, terrifying, exhausting, unsettling. All the things needed to process feelings, issues, events, relationships, paths taken and not taken.
the American Art Therapy Association states that “Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.”
So perhaps art therapy is more than art and more than therapy but can also address life, be a way of life, be a way of communicating with life, others, self. I wonder if because art therapy is more than art and more than therapy, that is why so many people (other therapists and artists) want to do art therapy, practice art therapy and yet don’t really understand it because it is more than either of their fields.
Psychology deals with healing the mind, art deals with expressing the soul, so perhaps art therapy deals with healing the soul along with the mind. It is ineffable I guess.
reprinted from arttherapyblog