Definitions of art therapy vary due to its origins in two fields: art and psychotherapy. It can focus on the art-making process as therapeutic in and of itself (“art as therapy”) or it can be “art in therapy” (art psychotherapy). The psychoanalytic approach was the earliest form of art psychotherapy. This approach employs the transference process between the therapist and the client who makes art. The therapist interprets the client’s symbolic self-expression as communicated in the art and elicits interpretations from the client. Current art therapy includes a vast number of other approaches such as: Person-Centered, Cognitive, Behavior, Gestalt, Narrative, Adlerian, Family (Systems) and more. The tenets of art therapy involve humanism, creativity, reconciling emotional conflicts, fostering self-awareness, and personal growth.

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What To Expect

Facilitators encourage personal expression and emotional release through the use of art–painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, or other visual arts. Your art therapist will connect the art image to your inner experiences and help you make sense of them. He or she can help you explore feelings you may not fully understand yet. As an adjunct to psychotherapy, art therapy is used as a catalyst to speak about and explore unconscious thoughts and emotions.

Art Therapy is a non-judgmental and non-analytical practice. After some discussion, the individual is encouraged to move into and through the issues presented in a creative exploration, unveiling that which is below the surface of the conscious mind. This is imperative to the process of individuation and self discovery. Each individual’s artwork and perception of it, is respected and valued as their own expression of their experience of the world.

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