Friday, May 1, 2009

What is Art Therapy?

"What is art therapy?" you may ask. According to the American Art Therapy Association:

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.

Art therapy integrates the fields of human development, visual art (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other art forms), and the creative process with models of counseling and psychotherapy. Art therapy is used with children, adolescents, adults, older adults, groups, and families to assess and treat the following: anxiety, depression, and other mental and emotional problems and disorders; substance abuse and other addictions; family and relationship issues; abuse and domestic violence; social and emotional difficulties related to disability and illness; trauma and loss; physical, cognitive, and neurological problems; and psychosocial difficulties related to medical illness. Art therapy programs are found in a number of settings including hospitals, clinics, public and community agencies, wellness centers, educational institutions, businesses, and private practices.

Art therapists are masters level professionals who hold a degree in art therapy or a related field. Educational requirements include: theories of art therapy, counseling, and psychotherapy; ethics and standards of practice; assessment and evaluation; individual, group, and family techniques; human and creative development; multicultural issues; research methods; and practicum experiences in clinical, community, and/or other settings. Art therapists are skilled in the application of a variety of art modalities (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other media) for assessment and treatment.

About Myself

I decided in junior high that I wanted to be a psychologist. After I learned about the use of art with schizophrenics in my high school psychology class, I realized that my desire to be a psychologist and my artistic hobby could be used together in helping people. I attended Oklahoma State University for my undergraduate degree, where I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a Studio Art minor. From there, I attended George Washington University, where I gained experience in placements in a special educational school setting and a day treatment program for trauma survivors, and then graduated with my Master of Arts in Art Therapy. My subsequent experience includes working with children, adolescents, and families as an art therapist in home-based counseling, with emotionally disturbed adolescents and pre-school age children in DC inner city schools, and with adolescents of active duty or retired military in a day treatment hospital program. I have also had experience working with soldiers in the Warrior in Transition Unit. In addition to my work experience, I have also been a graduate faculty on-site supervisor of graduate interns since 2006.

I also have the following Professional Associations and Credentials:

  • AATA Professional Member, since 2001
  • PATA Professional Member, 2001-2003, 2006-present
  • Registered Art Therapist (ATR), 2005
  • Board Certified (BC), 2006