What is Art Therapy?

Stone Pathway

Stone Pathway

Art Therapy uses various art media such as drawing, painting, all 3-D media such as sculpture, photography and other materials to all clients to have access to fully express themselves, in a non-verbal fashion, as well as a springboard to facilitate psychotherapeutic discussion and material in the client’s life. Art Therapists have masters degree level education with a degree in art therapy, or post-graduate training specifically in art therapy that makes them eligible for art therapy credentials (ATR, and ATR-BC).

After obtaining a Master’s degree in art therapy, they then go on to obtain registration status (ATR), which requires an extended period of supervision from an experienced art therapist, and then board certification status (BC) by completing and passing a professionally proctored and monitored board certification exam. Art therapy is equally effective with both children and adults, especially those who have undergone trauma and have difficulty expressing themselves in words.

At LifeBalance, art therapy can be used in combination with other means such as DBT, EMDR and Sensorimotor psychotherapy. Art therapy encourages and aids in resilience, growth, learning healthy boundaries, increase in self-awareness, facilitates expression of feelings, and opens up a creative pathway for wholeness psychologically and emotionally. You do not have to be an artist to enjoy and gain from the art therapy experience! There is no art making skill necessary, just the desire to grow, become more self-aware and regulated to handle whatever life throws your way!

Art is for everyone.  The painful memories of perhaps an art teacher in school telling you that you didn’t “have it” to be an artist aren’t relevant here.   Art in art therapy is a non verbal way used to facilitate self-expression in ways verbal therapy alone cannot do.  What is important in art therapy is the actual process of making the art, and what occurs between the artist/client and the art therapist, not the finished product.   Art Therapy can be an advantage over verbal therapy alone for many reasons for clients, some examples include:

  • Art involves the body, mind and spirit in invoking memories that can be painful or confusing.
  • Art can be used as a means of expressing trauma that the client finds difficult to put into words in a safe way where the client feels empowerment and control.
  • Art accesses more areas of the brain to allow processing of issues or traumas (it is a perfect companion to other modalities LifeBalance offers, like EMDR, or for use alone without it).
  • While therapy won’t always be fun as we are going through painful issues, having art involved in the therapy process can make it more fun and enjoyable!
  • Using art therapy can aid clients in opening other creative doors, such as their own personal writing, use of movement, etc.
  • Art brings in the sensory and visual components that aid in healing.
  • Art allows clients to access their own inner wisdom for healing.
  • Art Therapy with children or teens is a natural match.  It allows them to express their individuality, creativity and process difficult feelings at a rate that is safe and at a pace they can handle and feel mastery at.
  • Art Therapy can be used as either primary therapy (Ms. Klachkin is a NJ licensed LPC and an NY licensed LCAT, which are qualified to be primary therapists on a case in private practice), or adjunctive therapy, along with a psychiatrist, treatment team at a hospital or other verbal therapist.

These are just a few examples of how art therapy helps.  LifeBalance’s aim is to work with you as a partner in your healing, and the art process is a creative way in which to do this.

For more information on art therapy, please visit the webpage of the American Art Therapy Association, arttherapy.org, and the Art Therapy Credentials Board, atcb.org.