Q: What Is Art Therapy?

A: Art therapy is a recognized form of therapy. Led by a trained art therapist, it takes a creative approach to working with stress, trauma, growth and change. This allows issues to be explored in a gentle way. Some experiences are so disturbing that there are no words that help a person come to terms with them and move on in life. Art can express what the person cannot.

Q: How Can Art Therapy Help?

A: In working to resolve major conflicts, trauma, loss and grief, art therapy can help to provide:

  •  Support to contain and safely manage those things that are difficult and painful to acknowledge or discuss verbally.
  • A tangible record of progress that can be reviewed during and at the termination of therapy.
  • Insight into and validation of one’s feelings.
  • A way to recharge and nurture your own self-care.
  • The opportunity to discover strengths and authenticity, leading to a stronger sense of identity and contribution to relationships, family, community and the world.
  • Help with problem solving emotionally difficult choices and decisions through creative expression of these choices.
  • The recovery of a sense of enjoyment, peace, and well-being.
  • Engagement of the whole brain, keeping the mind fit through the stimulated integration of cognitive, feeling, and sensory processes.

Q: Is Art Therapy regulated?

A: Art therapists are regulated by the Canadian Art Therapy Association and guided by its Code of Ethics. Most art therapists are trained at an art therapy school and have a minimum of 600 to 1,000 face-to-face clinical hours as practicum during this training.

Q: How do I know if art therapy has a proven effect?

A: Research is ongoing within the profession of art therapy.

Recent findings include acknowledgment from the medical field that expressing oneself in a creative process can positively affect the mind/body relationship:

  • Allows the body to release endorphins and other feel-good neurotransmitters.
  • Reduces anxiety and depression.
  • Creates a body response that improves immune function and helps to naturally relieve pain.

Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself (2013) by Dr. Lissa Rankin, MD