What is Arts Therapy?

Arts therapy, also called creative arts therapy, is an experiential psychotherapeutic approach utilising arts modalities within a relationship with a trained therapist, attending to emotional, cognitive, physical and spiritual well-being.

Arts therapists use visual art-making, drama, dance and movement to improve physical, mental and emotional well-being. They work with individuals or groups using arts processes such as painting to create meaning, rather than focussing on the end product.

Arts therapists provide therapeutic interventions using the visual arts, including drawing, painting, sculpture, sand and play for mental health diagnoses, wellbeing, early intervention and developmental disorders. Arts therapies can help people to resolve conflicts, develop interpersonal skills, manage behaviour, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and achieve insight.

ANZACATA is the peak registration body for the Asia and Oceanic region and has information about where to find arts tehrapists, 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, 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?

Arts therapy can be helpful for people who cannot verbalise their feelings due to developmental, cognitive or other conditions. 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?

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 Australian and New Zealand Arts Therapy Association (ANZATA)
Complete continuing professional development and work under a code of ethics