Information about art therapy and some of the people who are helped by art therapists.
Art Therapy: Definition of the Profession (AATA)
Art Therapy is a regulated, integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.
Art Therapy, facilitated by a professional art therapist, effectively supports personal and relational treatment goals as well as community concerns. Art Therapy is used to improve cognitive and sensory-motor functions, foster self-esteem and self-awareness, cultivate emotional resilience, promote insight, enhance social skills, reduce and resolve conflicts and distress, and advance societal and ecological change.
Art therapists are professionals trained in both art and therapy. They are knowledgeable about human development, psychological theories, clinical practice, spiritual, multicultural and artistic traditions, and the healing potential of art. They use art in treatment, assessment and research, and provide consultations to allied professionals. Art therapists work with people of all ages: individuals, couples, families, groups and communities. They provide services, individually and as part of clinical teams, in settings that include mental health, rehabilitation, medical and forensic institutions; community outreach programs; wellness centers; schools; nursing homes; corporate structures; open studios and independent practices.
The American Art Therapy Association, Inc. (AATA) sets educational, professional, and ethical standards for its members. The Art Therapy Credentials Board, Inc. (ATCB), an independent organization, grants credentials. Registration (ATR) is granted upon completion of graduate education and post-graduate supervised experience. Board Certification (ATR-BC) is granted to Registered Art Therapists who pass a written examination, and is maintained through continuing education. Some states regulate the practice of art therapy and in many states art therapists can become licensed as counselors or mental health therapists.
Art therapy is recognized as an essential mental health treatment by prominent national figures and has received bi-partisan support.
The Second Lady of the United States, Mrs. Karen Pence has been working to elevate public awareness of the art therapy profession: https://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/karen-pence
On September 18, 2017, Mrs. Pence hosted a kick-off breakfast to launch a research summit sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts’ Military Healing Arts Network Creative Forces program: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/09/18/readout-second-lady-karen-pence-kicks-two-day-creative-forces-research
In 2001, Hillary Clinton toured the American Art Therapy Association’s national art therapy exhibition in the Russell Senate Rotunda (photo below). This inspired her Congressional Record Statement in support of art therapy (Nov. 29, 2001, S12154).