Definition of Art Therapy
Art therapy is a process where one combines mind and body, and internal and external experiences and then relates them into chosen formalities of art: line, shape, color, form, size, texture, content, etc. It is a non-verbal form of communication and expression, and both the art process and the art product contribute to the conversation which may transpire both within the creator himself as well as with others. An issue, feeling, or thought may be relayed more easily or with more truthfulness through the means of creating 2-D and 3-D art rather than through the art of conversation alone. Freud expressed the potential difficulties in verbal communication in terms of translating dream imagery into words: “I could draw it,” a dreamer often says, “but I don’t know how to say it” (Lewis, 1996).
There are two ways art may be used therapeutically. Art as therapy is concerned with the expression of art for academic, aesthetic, or cultural aims. It is believed that one may reconcile emotional conflicts and foster self-awareness and personal growth through the creative process. It is a product oriented approach. Professionals who can provide this service are art therapists, therapeutic art educators, or therapeutic artists (Bush, 1995).
Art Psychotherapy (Art in Therapy) is concerned with both the product and any associations made in reference to the art may be used to assist individuals in discovering more compatible relationships between their inner and outer self.The emphasis is placed on the creation of art as a means of communication.The purpose of this communication is for developing insight and resolving emotional conflicts. This is accomplished by using the art symbolically to understand what is happening with the individual. Here, an art therapist is concerned with the individuals inner experience and will assist him/her to make connections to help resolve emotional conflicts.The actual art making process, the ways in which the forms are presented, the content, and the verbal associations are important factors which reflect aspects of an individuals personality, development, personality traits, and unconscious.This is a process oriented approach. Professionals who can provide this service include certified/registered clinical art therapist or certified/registered art psychotherapist (Bush,1995).
Bush, Janet (1995).“Art therapy in schools.” Presentation for the Delaware Valley Art Therapy Associations Annual Career Night. Hahnemann University, Philadelphia, PA.
Lewis, Michele (1996). Art therapy with woman experiencing the change of life: A double case study.Unpublished Masters Thesis. Hahnemann University, Philadelphia, PA.