art education
art therapy
studio art
art edu/therapy
student handbook



Art Therapy is the therapeutic use of art making, within a professional relationship, by people who experience illness, trauma, or challenges in living, and by people who seek personal development.

Through creating art and reflecting on the art products and processes, people can increase awareness of self and others, cope with symptoms, stress, and traumatic experiences; enhance cognitive abilities; and enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of making art.

Art Therapists set aside the critical analysis of artistic technique; approaching each piece of artwork as part of a bigger story. The art illuminates the therapeutic partnership of therapist and client utilizing the gifts and struggles each one brings to the creative process. Art making serves as a form of meaning-making, communication, healing and personal growth.

Art Therapy is based on the belief that life is enhanced by art. It is essential for art therapists to know the creative process intimately and pay attention to both its inner movement and external expressions.

By learning about process and product, the history of art, human development, psychology and counseling theory, art therapists are well trained to deal effectively with a diverse range of populations.


Art therapy is an area of study, a human service profession, and an effective treatment each of which utilize creative materials and an emphasis on process over product in combining art and psychology.


Art therapy assists people in finding greater satisfaction with and adjustment to, life. Art therapy can provide education, training, recreation, rehabilitation, counseling, diagnoses, and psychotherapy. It can be found as part of a team effort or individual therapy in helping people develop skills, find creative solutions to problems, or learn more about themselves.


Art therapy is for all people! From young children to older adults, women and men, all cultures, classes, and races benefit from the therapeutic applications of art. People who would like to: learn more about themselves, learn effective approaches to conflict resolution, become more effective communicators, build community, develop or enhance skills, heal past trauma, or develop alternatives to destructive, compulsive, or self-abusive behaviors benefit from art therapy.


Art therapy is used in schools, hospitals, day-care centers, recreation programs, day treatment and rehabilitation programs, prisons, after care programs, and private practice settings.


  1. The therapist uses the environment, e.g. a class in specifically organized space, to build the client's/student's awareness of personal competencies and social interaction styles, or develop skills through the utilization of creative materials,
  2. Clients/students are mentored in developing art making skills in relationship to everyday experiences,
  3. Art therapy may be combined with other modalities such as psychodrama, poetry, or movement therapy or used as the primary treatment in resolving mental health issues.


No therapy works independently of the therapist-client relationship and research has demonstrated that the therapeutic relationship is the single most important aspect of successful therapy. Most important, then, is that the therapist is healthy, mentally, physically, and emotionally, and that the client/student be genuinely willing to continue her/his own growth. Art therapy has been used successfully by practitioners with various theoretical orientations and various approaches in all of the above mentioned settings. This, in turn, impacts the specifics of "how art therapy works." Visualization, an important component of art therapy, has been found through research to be significant to the healing process.


Art Therapy is a way of working with people using therapeutic art experiences, helping others get in touch with their feelings and solving problems creatively. It helps others through a combination of art and therapy.

Art Therapy is a human service profession that integrates the world view of the artist with a compassion for helping others live richer, more fully developed lives. To help others heal and grow, art therapists must know the creative process intimately and pay attention to both its inner movement and external expressions.

Art Therapy is an area of study. Programs usually combine classes in the making of art, learning about both process and product, the history of art, human development, psychology, and counseling theory. More thorough programs also include classes on and opportunities to do research and a developmental series of field experiences. Most programs offer a senior level intern or practicum experience.

Art Therapy is a regulated profession, that is, most states have guidelines describing who can advertise and practice as an "Art Therapist". After completing post-secondary education and a specified number of supervised hours of practice, qualified individuals can apply for a state license or certification. To learn more about this process, contact the art therapy association of the state in which you would like to live and work. That association can assist you in learning about licensing procedures for their state. A great number of jobs in most states, from beautician to psychologist to teacher to art therapist, may require individuals to be licensed before they can employed at certain levels in those occupations.

Art Therapy is an effective treatment for the developmentally, medically, socially, educationally, or psychologically impaired: and is practiced in mental health, rehabilitation, educational, medical, and forensic institutions. All populations from various socio-economic groups, races, and countries are served by art therapists in individual, couples, family, and group therapy formats.

How could I find an Art Therapist to observe or speak with? Most jobs for persons with a bachelor's degree in art therapy will be listed under titles such as "activity" or "recreation" therapist, "artist - individuals with special needs" and will not be found in newspaper want ads. Some jobs for masters prepared art therapists will be listed in newspaper want ads in the healthcare/medical section. Contact your state art therapy association to locate practicing art therapists who might be willing to speak with you. Where can I find more information about Art Therapy? Contact Michele Burnie at for more information.



art therapy