Art Therapy? or Art in Therapy?

Many substance abuse recovery centers claim “art therapy” among their methods of treatment, but to professional art therapists there can be a wide gap between using “art in therapy” and Art Therapy.

The distinction is subtle, but important. Art activities, such as coloring or making sock puppets, can be done by teachers, volunteers, or even clinicians within therapy hours for all age groups as a means for a creative outlet, relaxation, and simple personal pleasure.

Art therapy, however, is a form of expressive therapy that uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Certified art therapists receive specialized education that allows them to build a trusting, therapeutic alliance with their clients to help them engage on a deeper emotional level in order to help identify and process emotions that may be hidden. Noted psychologist Carl Jung theorized that art resided within “the undifferentiated chaos of the magical mentality” in everyone, and that art could be used as a way to connect the “conscious mind” to the “unconscious mind”, which can be crucial in moving past trauma and having a successful recovery.

Art therapy may occur in groups or in individual sessions. Since sensitive information can be involved, professional clinicians strive be aware of the group dynamic and whether or not the therapy can, or should, be done alongside others. Art therapy will often be done one-on-one to allow for the confidential release and processing of feelings and emotions that may come up during a session. In art activities, the focus is on the project that is presented for the group to “complete”, even if that project allows for creativity. In art therapy, the focus is instead on the client’s emotional welfare towards the goal of mental health growth and well-being.

Think therapeutic artistic expression might be the key to helping you move past past trauma or aid in your recovery? Interested to hear more? If you’d like more information about our program or to see if it would be a good fit for you or your loved one, call Reed at 800-556-2966.