Art therapy is a mental health profession used to help individuals, families, and groups safely express emotions, gain insights, process trauma, decrease stress and anxiety, and increase self-confidence through the creative process. Art therapy is for people of all ages and artistic abilities. Art therapists are master’s level clinicians who are trained in utilizing art making as a tool in the therapeutic process. While there may be components of art education in art therapy sessions, the focus is not on developing artistic abilities and skills, rather art therapy focuses on art making for self-expression, emotional exploration, processing feelings related to the hospital experience, connecting with others, and engaging in positive coping.
Art therapy is prioritized based on doctor referral, but requests for a referral can be directed to any member of your child’s care team.
Art Therapy Goals
In the pediatric medical setting, art therapy can be used by patients and their families to:
- Promote self-expression surrounding feelings, thoughts and experiences related to illness, injury or hospitalization
- Build verbal and non-verbal communication skills
- Provide opportunities for choice and control in all aspects of art making
- Develop and strengthen positive coping strategies
- Support pain management
- Facilitiate exploration of identity and formation of self-esteem
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have to be an artist or have an interest in art making to participate in art therapy?
People of all artistic abilities who are willing to participate can benefit from art therapy.
Is art therapy only for young children?
Art therapy is for people of all ages. PCH art therapists provide services to children ages 3 - 19 as well as parents and caregivers.
Can families and siblings participate in art therapy?
Yes! Art therapy can involve and benefit the whole family.
Is art therapy the same as art education?
While art therapy is not art education, there are aspects of art education in sessions. An art therapist is trained in utilizing art materials in the therapeutic process. The art therapist may instruct a participant about how to best use materials or provide brief tutorials on art making techniques.
The goal of art therapy is not to teach art skills, but to use art making to achieve therapeutic goals such as providing room for emotional expression, positive coping, exploration of life experiences, and normalization of the hospital experience.
What is an art therapist's education and background?
An art therapist has completed a 2 - 3 year master's program that combines counseling and the use of art making in the therapeutic process. The American Art Therapy Association (AATA) requires students from accredited art therapy programs to complete a minimum 700 hours of practicum and internship work before receiving their degree.
In their professional work, art therapists can earn a Registered Art Therapist (ATR/TR-BC) credential be completing 1000 hours of direct client care supervised by a board certified art therapist (ATR-BC). Art therapist are also eligible for counseling licensure (ACMHC/CMHC) in Utah.