What is Art Therapy?

Art Therapy is a unique form of psychotherapy, where exposure to the art materials and the process of image-making, supported by the art therapist, can enable the client to activate his/her creativity to help reach a fuller potential.

Art Therapy is about using art as a tool for communication and through the therapeutic relationship, emotional, psychosocial and developmental needs are addressed with the intention of effecting lasting change. Making visual images (painting, drawing, models etc.) in the presence of a qualified Art Therapist contributes towards externalization of thoughts and feelings, which may otherwise remain unexpressed. The process of art therapy also brings about the potential for clients to ‘create’, through their artwork, necessary and/or positive changes through the creative process. It also helps clients to get in touch with their own problem solving ability. The problem solving function of clients in therapy, enable clients to move towards change and take action in his/her life.

It is not necessary to have any previous experience in art making. Scribbles and marks are equally valued as complete detailed images.

Art is used as non-verbal communication. Therefore, the focus is not the aesthetic value, but bringing to light unconscious material in order to explore, clarify, and bring meaning to it within a safe and supportive space.


A qualified Art Therapist has completed a postgraduate and/or masters intensive training course lasting two to three years. Training includes art, psychology and psychotherapy. Art therapists are keenly aware of and trained to work with symbolism and help clients to understand their personal connection to this symbolism as it emerges in artwork. Art Therapists are practicing under ethical codes of practice. “Art Therapist’s unique skills and knowledge in the areas of nonverbal communication enable them to develop avenues for expression not possible through traditional methods” (The South Florida Art Psychotherapy Institute).

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