What is Arts Therapy?

Arts therapy, also known as creative arts therapy or therapeutic arts practice, is a psychotherapeutic approach that utilizes various art modalities, including visual art-making, drama, voice, music, dance, and movement. This experiential therapy is conducted within a relationship with a trained therapist and is designed to attend to emotional, cognitive, physical, and spiritual well-being.

Arts therapy is a holistic approach that goes beyond visual art-making. Arts therapists work with individuals or groups to improve physical, mental, and emotional well-being. They provide therapeutic interventions using a range of arts modalities, including drawing, painting, sculpture, sand, and play, to help people resolve conflicts, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem, and gain insight.

Arts therapy is not just visual art making.

ANZACATA is the peak registration body for the Asia and Oceanic region and has information about where to find arts therapists, insurance, registration and study.

Where do arts therapists practice?

Arts therapists work across a range of health settings including private practice, community health, education, hospital, mental health facilities, rehabilitation facilities, correctional facilities, disability sector, aged care and palliative care. They may work in a solo practice or be part of a multidisciplinary team.

When should I see an arts therapist?

You may want to consider seeing an arts therapist if you are experiencing emotional or psychological difficulties and are looking for a creative and expressive way to explore and address them. This can include a wide range of issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, grief, relationship problems, self-esteem issues, and more.

Arts therapy can be beneficial for anyone, regardless of age, gender, or cultural background. It can also be helpful for individuals who find it difficult to express themselves verbally or who may not feel comfortable with traditional talk therapy. It can also be helpful for people who over verbalise and avoid their true meanings and messages by over sharing and being consumed by their story.

There are many reasons why a person might benefit from seeing an arts therapist. These include:

  • to express feelings that may be difficult to verbalise
  • to explore their imagination and creativity
  • to develop healthy coping skills and focus
  • to improve self-esteem and confidence
  • to increase communication skills
  • to share in a safe nurturing environment
  • to improve motor skills and physical co-ordination
  • to identify blocks to emotional expression and personal growth.

What services do arts therapists provide?

Arts therapists provide a wide range of services that are designed to help individuals explore and express themselves through creative processes. These services can vary depending on the specific modality of arts therapy being used, but generally include:

  1. Assessment: Arts therapists use creative activities to assess a person’s emotional, mental, and physical well-being. This helps them identify areas where the person may need support or further treatment.
  2. Treatment: Arts therapists use creative activities to help individuals work through emotional, psychological, or physical issues. This can include anything from creating art, music, or movement to exploring feelings and thoughts through drama and play.
  3. Diagnosis: Arts therapists may use creative assessments to help diagnose mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety.
  4. Rehabilitation: Arts therapists may work with individuals who have experienced trauma, injury, or illness to help them regain physical and emotional functioning through creative activities.
  5. Support: Arts therapists may provide emotional support and guidance to individuals who are struggling with difficult life circumstances, such as grief or loss.

Overall, arts therapists aim to help individuals achieve greater self-awareness, enhance their well-being, and improve their quality of life through the use of creative processes.

How are arts therapists qualified?

In order to practise and use the recognised title AThR (registered arts therapist), the following requirements must be met:

  • Complete a minimum two years Masters degree
  • Complete a minimum of 750 hours of supervised clinical placement.
  • Professional membership of The Australian, New Zealand and Asian Creative Arts Therapies Association (ANZACATA)
  • Complete continuing professional development and work under a code of ethics

Check out my blog Arts Therapy Courses Australia: Top 4 places to Study Arts Therapy in Australia to find the best places to study Arts Therapy in Australia.