Art therapy is a kind of therapy in which the individual undergoing the therapy is encouraged to create visual art. The creation of art is often used to assist the individual in healing and growing mentally and emotionally. Art therapy is considered to be an expressive therapy because it encourages individuals undergoing it to express ideas and feelings that they may have trouble conveying through verbal and other kinds of communication. There are art therapy positions in schools and rehabilitation clinics, and many art therapists also have private practices.
While art therapy normally refers to therapy that is conducted with the use of painting and drawing, there are other kinds of art therapy that utilize different art forms. For example, there are branches of art therapy that incorporate the performance or dramatic arts. This therapy may allow individuals to explore and express feelings and thoughts through acting or dancing. Other kinds of art therapy may include sculpture or creative writing.
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Art therapy positions in schools allow art therapists to work with students who may have emotional, social, or developmental problems. These kinds of therapists often work closely with certain students in order to allow them to express feelings and notions that may be contributing to problems with learning, social adaptation, and problems at home. Art therapists in schools may also advise teachers and family members how best to communicate with and deal with students in question.
It is also common to find art therapy positions in rehabilitation clinics. Art therapists may work with those who are recovering from trauma or drug addiction. The therapy is used to allow patients to explore and express troubling feelings and memories. Art therapists may use breakthroughs that are achieved through the therapy to discuss newly realized memories and feelings.
Many art therapists also have private practices. In these cases, the therapists are often self-employed. A patient may seek out a therapist that specializes in this expressive therapy in order to heal from mental or emotional wounds or illnesses. These art therapy positions normally require that practitioners have years of clinical experience that allow them to act as counselors or psychotherapists.
In cases where art therapy positions are a part of a larger institution, such as hospitals and rehabilitation clinics, the therapist may also have administrative or managerial duties as well. The therapist may also be responsible for evaluating patients and deciding whether this kind of expressive therapy will be effective in their particular cases. While anyone may benefit from art therapy, some individuals may gain more from this kind of treatment than others.