What is Art Therapy?
Written by: JEAN PIERRE BRAVO, AMFT
Art Therapy is a mental health field that improves the lives of individuals, couples, families, and communities. Art Therapy is facilitated by a professional Art Therapist who uses psychological theories to improve cognition and sensorimotor functions, foster self esteem, raise awareness, cultivate resilience, promote insight, enhance social skills, reduce conflicts and distress, and promote societal and ecological change. Art in therapy engages the mind, body, and spirit through kinesthetic, sensory, perceptual, and symbolic expression. Art Therapists also use the art to communicate in a non-verbal way with their clients; They use lines, shapes, and colors to help their clients express their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Are coloring books Art Therapy? Simply, the answer is no. In order for it to truly be considered Art Therapy it must have both components present, the Art and the Therapy. Coloring books are therapeutic and can be considered art therapy if they are recommended by an Art Therapist to meet your therapeutic goals or within a therapeutic environment. One can always reek the benefits of creating art by using the coloring books, but without the therapy part, it is simply art.
Coloring books have been around my entire life and I myself have benefited from these activities, so don’t be discouraged when hearing that it’s not “Art Therapy”. Just like meditating, simply creating art will benefit you immensely. There is no need to analyze the art or focus on the product; the point is to create. That’s it.*For more information on Art Therapy and/or a broader definition of What Art Therapy is, please visit The American Art Therapy Association website.
*Written by: JEAN PIERRE BRAVO, M.A., Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist 118676. Supervised by Dr. Joselyn Josephine Ayala-Encalada Psy.D., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist 96987