Creation of artistic works has been an ancient practice that has been said to delve into the inner workings of the human mind and bring out the true emotions of the person behind the artwork. As such, it should come as no surprise that art therapy is a viable practice meant to nurture patients in a unique way. An art therapist, therefore, is an experienced artist who also has solid knowledge of human psychology and mental development. Because art therapy is a clinical practice, it is almost essential that the art therapist have a degree in at least art or psychology. The art therapist is experienced in picking up subtle nonverbal and metaphorical imagery contained within both the process of creating the artistic piece, and the final piece itself. Any person can undergo the therapy, whether it be one person or multiple. By undergoing the process of art therapy, a patient is guided by the therapist to induce certain feelings with the goal of uncovering something about oneself. By creating the artwork, the patient can undergo personal growth and reflection, and gain an increased understanding of others or learn to cope with certain problems in their life. To become a registered art therapist, one must receive approved training, often at the postgraduate level. A typical art therapist's duties will be quite similar to that of a normal therapist, including receiving referrals from other therapists, sending out referrals of their own, attending meetings, and listening in-depth to the client, as a normal therapist would, to gain a deeper meaning of the patient's mental condition. Overall, the art therapist's job is similar to a regular therapist's, instead the art therapist uses the creation of artwork to spur deeper feelings and emotions instead of strictly conversing with the patient.
Art Therapist Tasks
- Assess patients' development, abilities, personality, interests and conflicts through their art productions.
- Encourage patients with special needs and circumstances to express themselves creatively with art.
- Prepare and submit patients' reactions and progress reports, confer with treatment team.
- Develop treatment plan with varied interventions based on assessment, interests and objectives of therapy.