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This information was reviewed and approved by Jennifer Moyer Darr, LCSW (3/1/2019).

Art therapy is a clinical, diagnostic and therapeutic tool that integrates creative and nonverbal or verbal techniques to help facilitate the therapeutic process.

Art therapy offers a way to assess and treat patients by entering into the world of creative representation and symbolism. One of the most beneficial aspects of art therapy is that it helps reduce the stress of being in a hospital setting and has been shown to be an effective way to help children cope with having a chronic illness. Children often use the art process to express and release feelings of stress and anxiety. When physically ill children make art, it often validates what they are feeling and experiencing. By creating art about their illness, trauma or medical procedures, children are able to put some distance between themselves and their medical issues. By working through their issues in the art, children often come to understand that their challenges are something that is separate from who they are and that they have an identity outside of their illness.

The process of creating the artwork, regardless of the quality of the end product, becomes a vehicle for:

  • Self-exploration and self-expression

  • Building self-esteem

  • Sorting through and coping with difficult feelings and experiences

  • Developing a sense of accomplishment

  • Communicating with others

  • Expressing symbolic messages from the unconscious — feelings that may not otherwise be expressed.


About Art Therapists

Art therapists are psychotherapists who are specifically trained in integrating art media, art process and/or art product into the therapeutic process. Art therapists are skilled in the application of drawing, painting, clay and other media. Each art therapist has his or her own area of expertise, and he or she may conduct therapy in a group, family, couples or individual setting.

To practice art therapy in Colorado, a therapist must have a specialized degree in the mental health profession, a Master's Degree or a PhD. Art therapists are recognized by the Colorado State Licensing Board and can be licensed with an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) or an LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) by taking a standardized exam. Many Colorado art therapists have their LPC or LMFT licenses.

Art therapy is credentialed by the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) and the Art Therapy Credentialing Board (ATCB). A registered art therapist will have the credentialing initials ATR following his or her name, indicating that he or she is a nationally registered art therapist.


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