Art therapy allows feelings to be expressed through art. Like regular therapy, art therapy might not be for everyone. Art therapy uses both artistic and therapeutic techniques to provide clients with a way to express themselves through their work. Art therapy is used in many places and provides benefits for those who participate. It is important to implement art therapy into everyday life because it will allow one to find themselves.
The first person to refer to therapeutic applications of art was Adrian Hill, in England, while being treated for tuberculosis. Edward Adamson, another artist, continued Hill’s work and opened a studio for patients to freely create art without being judged. Art therapy was introduced in America during the 1940’s by Margaret Naumburg and Edith Kramer. Margaret Naumburg was a psychologist whose work was based on the idea “of using art to release the unconscious by encouraging free association” (“The History”). Naumburg would encourage patients to interpret and analyze their artwork. Dr. Edith Kramer, an Austrian woman, founded the art therapy graduate program at New York University and served as the Adjunct Professor of the program from 1975 to 2005. According to the Art Therapy Journal, by the middle of the 20th century “many hospitals and mental health facilities began including art therapy programs after observing how this form of therapy could promote emotional, developmental, and cognitive growth in children” (“The History”).
Art therapy incorporates art and therapeutic techniques and aids people of all ages. Many people may benefit from art therapy because they may “find it scary or difficult to express themselves in a clinical setting” (How Art). Art therapy is “the prescriptive use of art materials and art directives to facilitate positive changes in a person’s thoughts or feelings and behaviors” (Van Meter). The purpose of art therapy is to “improve or maintain mental health and emotional well-being” (“Art Therapy”). Art therapists are people who facilitate the therapy sessions. According to Alison Peeble, art therapists are trained in both art and psychological therapy allowing them to work with a client to “facilitate self expression and enhance communication” (Peeble, Alison). They are master level professionals who are trained in the use of art and media. Art therapists work in an abundance of places. The list of locations, provided by the Art Therapy Alliance, are mental health agencies, school districts, community programs, residential treatment programs, shelters, hospitals, correctional facilities, hospices, wellness centers and private practices (“About Art Therapy”).
Before starting the session with a patient, the therapist should make sure that there are materials and space available. The space should be a quiet and comfortable environment set up with age appropriate materials. The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine’s list of materials includes paper, paints, canvas, charcoals,...