Art as a therapeutic intervention is a creative process, suitable for all ages, and particularly for those who may be experiencing life changes, trauma, illness or disabilities causing distress for the individual and for their family. It works by helping clients to connect with and understand their inner world, and towards the development of a client's integrated sense of self, with increased self awareness and acceptance.
Art therapy is an effective therapeutic and diagnostic tool where therapist and client/s develop a dynamic interpersonal relationship, with clear boundaries and goals. It differs from traditional art in that the emphasis is on the process of creating rather than on the end product.
Art therapy combines traditional psychotherapeutic theories and techniques with an understanding of the psychological aspects of the creative processes, especially the affective properties of the different art materials. As a mental health profession, art therapy is employed in many clinical and workplace settings with diverse populations. Art therapy can be found in non-clinical settings as well as in art studios and workshops that focus on creativity development.
Art therapy is based on the knowledge that the creative process of art is both healing and life enhancing. The American Medical Association and Health Professions Network state that art therapists use drawing, painting, and other art processes to assess and treat clients with emotional, cognitive, physical, and/or developmental needs and disorders. Using their skills in evaluation and psychotherapy, they choose materials and interventions appropriate to their clients' needs and design sessions to achieve therapeutic goals and objectives.
Therapists use the creative process to help their clients increase insight and judgment, cope better with stress, work through traumatic experiences, increase cognitive abilities, have better relationships with family and friends, and to just be able to enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of the creative experience.