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. 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
  • Facilitate exploration of identity and formation of self-esteem

Meet Our Art Therapists

Ali Ditolla, MA, ATR-BC, CMHC

Ali is a registered art therapist who graduated from University of Delaware in 2003 with a Bachelors of Fine Arts, Painting Concentration, and completed her Master’s degree in Art Therapy in 2006 from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. As an art therapist, Ali loves that she is able to share the healing process of art making with children and their families. Ali helped develop the art therapy program at Primary Children’s Hospital which started in March of 2016.  
Contact Ali

Alyssa Steinke, LMFT, ATR

Alyssa is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Registered Art Therapist. Alyssa has previously provided mental health services to children and families in Chicago and southern California. Alyssa is experienced in providing many levels of care ranging from outpatient therapy to residential treatment. In addition to her clinical experience, Alyssa has volunteered in Kenya, Ecuador and Mexico where she provided after-school services and art therapy to pediatric populations.