Art Therapy Myths

Art Nouveau

Common Misconceptions about Art Therapies:

Myth #1 – You have to be an “artist” to benefit from art therapy.

Art therapy is less about the finished product, and more focused on the creative process. Artistic capability is never judged, just like individuals are not judged during a therapy session. It is important to work on one’s relationship with art making and an art therapist will ensure that frustrations and apprehension is taken into consideration.

Myth #2 – Art therapists are not real therapists.

An art therapist is a trained psychotherapist who specialises in the use of art making and the creative process. Art therapists undergo similar training to other types of “talk therapists” but have additional training in using art within therapy.

Myth #3 – Art therapists will know all about you by interpreting the artwork.

The meaning of the artwork is derived directly from the individual, their personal associations and feelings. Art therapists are there to help the individual to achieve a greater understanding and consider multiple meaning within the artwork.

Myth #4 – Art therapy is only for children.

People of all ages, mental and physical abilities can benefit from Art Therapy. It is a practice that goes beyond rationalisations, tap into the unconscious and shed light on things an individual may not be able to express verbally. It is a way to gain greater self-awareness or relieve stress.

Myth #5 – Art Therapy is only for people who cannot communicate.

While Art Therapy is commonly used with young children or disabled adults who may have difficulty communicating in a traditional therapy environment, people of all ages can benefit from Art Therapy. Even educated adults may have trouble articulating their feelings and thoughts, and art can be an effective outlet for them.

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What is Art Therapy?

Art Therapy is a form of psychotherapy utilising creative modalities, including visual art-making, drama, and dance/movement, within a therapeutic relationship to improve and inform physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Art Therapy has been recognised and regulated around the world by organisations such as the British Association of Art Therapists, the Health and Care Professions Council, the American Art Therapy Association, and the Professional Association for Arts Therapy in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

Amy Bucciarelli, MS ATR-BC, LMHC, Board Certified Art Therapist, helped Frank
Amy Bucciarelli, MS ATR-BC, LMHC, Board Certified Art Therapist, helped Frank “Dylan” Dinkins make a painting for his parents. Bucciarelli works with pedatrics patients at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital.

The advantages of Art Therapy for children include:

  • Express feelings that may be difficult to verbalise
  • Explore their imagination and creativity
  • Develop healthy coping skills and focus
  • Improve self-esteem and confidence
  • Identify and clarify issues and concerns
  • Increase communication skills
  • Share in a safe and nurturing environment
  • Identify blocks to emotional expression and personal growth

Art therapies are traditionally based on psychoanalytic principles, and therapists utilise varied practice-based and evidence-based theoretical frameworks. These traditions include depth analytic, humanistic, behavioural, systemic, and integrative approaches.

Art therapy differs from traditional art-making or performance as the emphasis is placed upon the process of creating and meaning-making, rather than on the end product.