Art Therapy

Major or Minor, Think About Creative Arts Therapy

CAT Major Courses

The College of Arts and Communication is pleased to announce the approval of a Bachelor of Science in Creative Arts Therapy. Art therapy is a field of psychology that relies on art and creativity to explore trauma and seek healing for a wide range of individuals. Students interested in enrolling in this new Art Therapy degree program should contact Dr. Susan Ridley, Assistant Professor of Art Therapy by email at [email protected]

Art Therapy in a Nutshell
Art therapy is easily defined as a form of demiurgic therapy that utilizes the unique perspective in the creative process offering reconciliation toward the individual’s inner and outer worlds often it often bridges the gap of concerns, thoughts and feelings between the individuals physical, mental, and emotional well-being. The creative process involved in expressing one’s self artistically can help people to resolve issues as well as develop and manage their behaviors and feelings, reduce stress, and improve self-esteem and awareness.

It is a therapy that universally allows the individual to create in an expressive and safe setting in which professionals can work with them and delve into the underlying messages communicated through art. While Art therapy is not all things to all people, it can achieve different things for different people. It can be used for counseling by therapists, promote healing, treatment, rehabilitation, psychotherapy. Art therapy can be used to message to one’s inner-self that may provide the individual with a deeper understanding of him or herself.

Using Art Therapy
Art Therapy is a form of creativity inherent within the fabric of the individual’s expression and can be use by almost anyone. Art therapy strives to offer a visual form of conscious and unconscious reconciliation in a world collaborating with a multitude of ways to communicate and express one’s self.  One of the major differences between art therapy and other forms of communication is that most other forms of communication elicit the use of words or language as a means of communication. Often times, humans are incapable of aptly expressing themselves or identifying their underlying feelings and as in the case of a child, they may lack the sophistication to succinctly communicate the nature of their conflict often finding themselves within a limited range of verbalization.

One of the qualities present in Art as therapy is the ability for a person to express his/her feelings through any form of art. Though the sheer act of creative expression, reconciliation may begin to take place on an unconscious level in a manner that is healing to that individual, as it simultaneously eliminates the need for association. In this manner, it can be a cathartic means of resolving conflict without the need to associate… One of the most predominate aspects of creative arts in therapy are other types of expressive therapies (such as the performing arts, drama, music and movement), and although the expressive art therapy typically utilizes more traditional forms of art, such as painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, or a variety of other types of visual art expression. However, there is increasing milieu’s that have begun to find Creative Arts in therapy useful in many other types of settings such as, medical, mental health as well as the simple act of creating.

To be or not to be Artistically Talented
One does not need be artistically talented. Art therapy cradles the concept that often the basic premise to understanding the world around us is largely dependent on both the hands and eyes. Though one may be fearful of the use of creative tools and it may seem different and unnatural at first, it is typically because the individual is not used to communicating via the arts. The creative process can be one of the most elucidating aspects of resolution. Aligned with an art therapist, it becomes a tool for communication, ignoring the need to be talented; it relies on communication as a mechanism exploring the visual imagery, symbolic process and relationship to art rather than talent. The goal is not necessarily to create an art masterpiece.

Using Art Therapy
As with most any therapy, art as therapy is an integrative creative process – used as a means to help to improve one’s emotional state or mental well-being. As an integral component of a treatment team it can be a substantially contributing aspect to determine the goals of therapy. In an individual process and as a “stand alone therapy” outside of a clinic or hospital setting, it can be used to relieve stress, tension, or used as a mode of self-discovery. Many people enjoy creative outlets. Ultimately, the goal in art therapy, is toward developing coping styles, while widening the range of human experience by creating equivalences for those experiences.

Master’s Level Professional Art Therapist
To be a professional in this field, students need graduate training in therapy and art. They often have certification as an ATR or are board-cerified (ATR-BC) by the American Art Therapy Association. An Expressive Arts Therapist or Creative Arts Therapist are certified REAT through the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association. In addition, professional art therapists also have a State counseling licence or are Licensed Professional Art Therapists, if this license is available in their State. Professional art therapists have studied and mastered psychology and human development. They typically work in a clinical setting or private practice. They also work in academic, counseling, and education. They are masters in this niche when it comes to using art as a springboard for everything from art therapy assessments of another person’s current state to treatment for a serious illness. Art therapists can work with people of all ages, sex, culture, etc. They can help an individual, a couple, a family, or groups of people. Depending on the situation, there may be numerous creative therapists working together as a clinical team. Art Therapy Fact Sheet