What is Art Therapy?


Art Therapy is based on the fields of art and psychology. It is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art to improve and enhance the physical mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. Art therapy is an approach that uses the clients creative process of art making and the significant art product to elicit expression of and insight into the client’s internal world. Art Therapists utilise a number of different approaches in their work depending on the client and their presenting problems. Some of these approaches may involve a number of theoretical perspectives. Some examples of these include, Psychodynamic, Humanistic and Psycho—Educational approaches.


Art is a natural sensory means of expression, as it involves touch, smell and other senses within the creative process. Graves-Acorn & Kagin (2017), articulate that the objective of art therapy is to teach the participant their own visual language as well as to assist in the translation of a feeling or feelings into a visual form. Malchiodi (2012), makes clear that art therapy can be used to resolve internal struggles, create meaning, achieve insight and find relief from trauma, and overwhelming emotions. It can assist clients to develop healthy coping skills and identify and clarify issues and concerns.


Art therapy facilitates change through engagement with the art therapist, art materials, within a safe environment. Art therapy works by containing the safety and security of the therapeutic space for its clients. By contributing change to the clients inner-world, and towards the development of the clients more integrated sense of self, an increased self- awareness and acceptance is achieved. Bricks (2007), expresses that art creates a positive association to therapy and is often enjoyable and less threatening than verbal therapy.




Madeleine Chelini is a specialised Art Therapist based in Melbourne



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