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As interest in the field of art therapy continues to grow and empirical data regarding the efficacy of art therapy treatment surfaces, art therapists are finding more and more opportunities to explain to both the general public and fellow mental health professionals just what it is that art therapy provides to clients.
Art therapy combines traditional talk psychotherapy with the use of creative expression through art making to facilitate the healing process. It provides a unique opportunity for clients to develop skills that can aide in increasing self-awareness, improve cognitive functioning and develop coping mechanisms for the various symptoms and life issues that bring them to therapy. Art therapy not only utilizes traditional media such as painting, drawing, sculpture and ceramic work, but can also include photography, printmaking, digital media and any other avenue of creative expression that feels comfortable to both client and therapist.
Art therapists are commonly asked to elaborate on the types of clients that benefit from art therapy treatment as well as whether or not artistic talent is necessary. The answer is that all psychotherapy clients from children to the elderly can find value in the art therapy process and there is absolutely no need for formal art training. The innate and human desire to create can be actualized through the most simple stick drawings and treatment is tailored to address each client’s individual needs.
In an individual setting the client is able to combine talk and creativity as they process their unique life story and attempt to navigate towards solutions and actualize treatment goals. Imagery can give voice to emotions that may simply be too difficult to verbalize as well as access other unconscious material that can help bring light those deeper feelings of which they may have been previously unaware.
In a group setting clients receive all of the benefits of individual treatment but are also provided with the opportunity to both engage in and witness the creative process as a unit. Art therapy in the group setting can help to facilitate the sense of unity and cohesion needed to form a successful group so that members may engage with each other and encounter the unique healing opportunities that group therapy provides.
It is important to consider that art therapy clients expressly benefit from both the intensive training that art therapists receive, as well as the opportunity to work in a art studio setting. In the professional studio clients are not limited by materials or space and are allowed that full range of creative expression that is unique to art therapy treatment.
Therapy by Angelina will begin a new art therapy group, Healing and Creativity, in September 2011 that will focus on processing the major challenges or adaptations often experienced throughout life. This new art therapy group will offer members a chance to connect with others experiencing similar challenges and participate in the group art therapy process while both creating and witnessing the healing art-making process.
Angelina H. Rodriguez, LPC-S, ATR-BC, has been in private practice in Houston, Texas over 6 years and is licensed by the Texas State Board of Professional Counselors, and is a Registered Board Certified Art Therapist. For more information go to find out more about the benefits of group therapy.