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

Ally Spjut, MS, ATR, CMHC

Ally is a registered art therapist and clinical mental health counselor. In 2015, she graduated from Eastern Virginia Medical School with a Master’s of Science in Art Therapy and Counseling. She has a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts with an emphasis in painting and printmaking with a minor in psychology from Utah State University. Ally has worked as a primary therapist and art therapist in residential treatment centers, medical rehabilitation, and alternative school settings, with most recently joining Primary Children’s Hospital in 2022. Ally enjoys working with children to help them learn more about themselves, explore through self-expression, increase self-compassion, and trusting in the process.

Contact Ally