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Therapy Thursdays: The Who of Art Therapy

In Art therapy on September 8, 2011 at 6:00 am

Who are Art Therapists?

While anyone can learn to take a nonjudgmental approach to creativity, the art therapist offers the navigational tools to make it a safe, effective, and healing experience.  Unfortunately, the term “art therapist” has still been denied a copyright, so anyone can call themselves an art therapist and get away with it (even your neighbor, your pet, anyone).  If you look on a number of internet search engines, it’s easy to find information of so-called art therapists, some of which know just enough to be dangerous.

Most “real” art therapists develop their competency just like a licensed professional counselor or social worker, earning a Master’s degree, completing residency requirements, and passing a certification exam.  While they receive a rather low spot on the perceived hierarchy of mental health professions, they are expected to maintain the same high standards of professionalism  and ethical practice.  Like a doctor receives the initials “MD,” an art therapist receives the credential “ATR-BC” (Board Certified, Registered Art Therapist) or a slight variation of this depending on the state where the therapist receives their certification.

Who needs Art Therapy?

It was once said that “art therapy’s not for everyone, but it comes pretty close.” It is a myth that art therapy is only for children or simply an off shoot of play therapy (which is also not just for children, but that’s another blog).  Quite literally, art therapy may be effective for people who have a brain.  Evidence-based research continues to reveal this to us.

Neuroscience and art therapy research continue to reveal that art therapy can make treatment faster and more effective in an extensive variety of conditions.  At RCASA, this is especially true in treating the repercussions of trauma.  The part of the brain that encodes traumatizing events is the same part that art therapy accesses and adapts.  It requires creativity to survive traumatic events, and in a sense art therapy uses that same creativity to help clients recover.

For more information on the effectiveness of art therapy, here are few websites to consider:

Official Site of the American Art Therapy Association: http://www.arttherapy.org/

Blog on Neuroscience and Art Therapy:  http://neuroarttherapy.blogspot.com/

Website on Child Sexual Abuse and Art Therapy as Treatment:

http://www.darknesstolight.org/KnowAbout/articles_art_therapy.asp

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