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Victims' Symptom : glossary:art-therapy
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Art as therapy or Art Psychotherapy

Art therapy is a human service profession that utilizes art media, images, the creative process, and patient/client responses to art productions as reflections of an individual’s development, abilities, personality, interests, concerns, and conflicts. Art therapy practice is based on knowledge of human developmental and psychological theories, which are implemented in the full spectrum of models of assessment and treatment (Cohen-Liebman, 2002). Art therapy is an effective treatment for the developmentally, medically, educationally, socially, or psychologically impaired. It is practiced in mental health, rehabilitations, medical, educational, and forensic institutions. Art therapy emerged as a distinct profession in the 1930s. Since that time art therapy has grown into an effective and important method of communication, assessment, and treatment. Sound theoretical principles and therapeutic practices govern the modality. The theoretical orientation of art therapy includes psychoanalytic theory as well as art education.

Two schools of thought are fundamental to the profession of art therapy: Art Psychotherapy and Art as Therapy. Both have contributed to the progressive development of the field. Often basic tenets associated with both schools of thought are integrated in the practice of art therapy. Psychoanalytic tenets provide the basis for both methods of practice. Important persons in the development of this art as a therapeutic techniques are Margaret Naumburg, Edith Kramer and Myra Levick (Cohen-Liebman, 2002).

Art therapists are skilled in the therapeutic use of art. Art therapists use their backgrounds as artists and their knowledge of art materials in conjunction with clinical skills. The art therapist treats clients/patients through the use of therapeutic art tasks. While the art therapy process uses art making as a means of nonverbal communication and expression, the art therapist makes use of verbal explorations and interventions. Art therapists do not own art or the healing that comes from its use (Cohen-Liebman, 2002).

Professional qualification for entry into the field requires a master’s degree from an accredited academic institution or a certificate of completion from an accredited institute or clinical program. Specialized training programs include didactic instruction and practicum experience. Graduate art therapy training programs are commonly associated with medical colleges or universities. The designation art therapist registered, ATR, is granted to individuals who have successfully completed the required educational and professional experience (Cohen-Liebman, 2002).



  • Cohen-Liebman MS. Art therapy. In: Hersen M, Sledge W. (eds). Encyclopedia of Psychotherapy. Elsevier Science (USA); 2002: 113-116.

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