Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the process of art-making to assist individuals, groups, and communities in expanding their emotional, mental, physical, and social health and well-being. Art therapy can help people express themselves, communicate with others, find direction, and can inspire creative transformation in individuals and groups.


Art Therapy, as a profession, requires its clinicians to obtain a Master's Degree in order to practice as therapists. The national credential for art therapists is ATR (Registered Art Therapist) or ATR-BC (Registered Art Therapist, Board Certified), although these credentials are not necessarily required for practice as an art therapist. Many art therapists (though not all) are also trained and licensed as professional counselors (LPC or LPCA, in North Carolina).


Although being an art therapist requires a Master's Degree, anyone can use art in a therapeutic way to facilitate their own healing. Just as I believe that everyone is an artist, I also believe that art therapy is a skill that can and should be shared. My formal art therapy training has taught me how to act as a responsible facilitator while helping others use art for themselves and their communities in a therapeutic, healing manner.



WHAT ARE THE DIFFEREnt types of art therapy?

Individual Art Therapy: In individual art therapy, a credentialed art therapist and a client work together in the safety of a therapy room to help the client meet self-determined goals, such as recovering from distress or trauma, gaining emotional clarity, learning to manage symptoms, building self-esteem, or finding self-fulfillment.

Group Art Therapy: In group art therapy, a credentialed art therapist facilitates a therapy group, which usually includes 10 or fewer individuals. Group art therapy is intended to serve as a space where clients (group members) can collaboratively create a safe space for one another to give and receive support, and share in healing together (with the help of an art therapist facilitator).


Community-based Art: Community-based art includes art that is made in community-based settings (like parks, streets, schools, libraries, social services organizations, religious centers, etc.) and is intended to bring people in a community together for fellowship and conversation. Community-based art does not need to be facilitated by a credentialed art therapist; however, art therapists' training as responsible group facilitators allows us to help ensure community art-making spaces remain emotionally safe for all participants.

Activism as Art / Art as Activism: Knowing that art can be transformative, the link between art therapy and social activism seems only natural. I believe that social participation is a form of art-making. Just as participating in social activism can help individuals find community support, a heightened sense of purpose, and strong social bonds (activism as art), using art to heal oneself and help others heal is a form of activism (art as activism).

More information about Art Therapy and being an Art Therapist can be found on the American Art Therapy Association website (www.arttherapy.org), as well as the Art Therapy Credentials Board website (www.atcb.org).