Art Therapy

Art therapy is a form of therapy that allows for emotional expression and healing through nonverbal means. By providing a safe and non-threatening environment, that art therapist invites the individual to express feelings and break through cumbersome communication barriers to achieve self expression using a variety of art media. The artwork can be spontaneous but may also be directed by the therapist. One of the most exciting uses is with children of all abilities. Although it has traditionally been linked to its use in psychotherapy, art is being used in different ways to promote healing in medical settings.

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Origins of Art Therapy

At the beginning of the twentieth century, psychiatrists became interested in the art work done by patients, and studied it to see if there was a link between the art and the illness of their patients. During this period, Margaret Naumburg began defining art therapy as a profession in the United States. As a teacher with a deep understanding of psychology, she utilized art to meet her students' psychological needs. Her efforts, along with those of Edith Kramer a little later on, are considered to be the beginning of art therapy. though art therapy did not emerge as a distinct profession until the 1930s, the benefits of art therapy were not widely recognized until after the 1950s. In 1961, the Bulletin of Art Therapy was founded by Elinor Ulman. This publication became a forum for practitioners who were independently involved in similar work. Professional organizations soon followed. 

The essence of art therapy is that it must partake of both parts of its name - it must involve art and therapy. Its primary aim is diagnostic or therapeutic. This does not mean working only with the segment of the population that is different from the norm. By its definition, art therapy does not depend on the population with which it works. This is why art therapy encompasses different subfields. like medical art therapy, child art therapy and others. 

Use With Children

Unlike most adults, children often cannot verbally express themselves easily. In some cases, they are physically unable to do so. Art therapy provides a unique setting in which communication may take place. Consequently there may be a greater importance placed on the relationship between the therapist and client than in other therapies. The relationship has been described as "a kind of special protected situation, where one person creates an environment, physical and psychological, in which one or more others can fully explore, expand and understand themselves through art." 

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Art therapy gives the child a sense of organization and order but does so with some experience of genuine freedom. The child often perceives the sessions as fun and non-threatening and will feel more comfortable and expressive as a result. Work with the handicapped child is generally similar to work with those without problems. They are much like other children in their interest in media, desire to be independent, concern with mastery and feelings of fear, jealousy and anger. Often they differ from "normal" children in that art allows them to communicate feelings and thoughts better than by verbalizing. them. 

Medical Art Therapy:

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Medical art therapists:

Conditions Benefited

Art therapy is for people of all ages, for individuals, couples, families and groups, who may be struggling with experiences of:

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The art therapist helps individuals:

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