Art Therapy FAQ

Who is Art Therapy for?

Art therapy benefits both adults and children in a wide range of settings including mental health, education, special needs, healthcare, community and social services, as well as through private practice.

Do I have to be good at art or have art experience?

No. Art therapy is not an art class and no artistic technique knowledge or experience is necessary. There is no wrong way to do art in art therapy! In an art therapy session the emphasis is placed upon expressing internal material outwards, and not placed on the finished art object.

Will the Art Therapist interpret my art or tell me what it means?

No. Each image holds meaning that is unique and personal to its creator and therefore, it is more beneficial for the therapist to explore the image with the client and allow them to arrive at their own personal understanding of its meaning and significance.

How long do I have to participate in sessions?

The length of time a client sees a therapist depends on each individual. Some clients meet their goals for therapy in a couple of sessions, whilst others may need longer, or on-going exploration and emotional support, depending on their circumstances and needs.

What training and professional qualifications are required to be an Art Therapist?

To become a member of the Canadian Art Therapy Association, Art therapists must complete a postgraduate training program at a recognized learning institution. This includes a minimum number of supervised clinical hours and personal therapy, as well as theoretical and experiential learning. Art therapists should be registered with their professional association who govern and uphold standards and ethics of the profession.

To become a Registered Canadian Art Therapist, (RCAT), a practicing Art Therapist must complete 1000 hours supervised by an RCAT after graduation. To remain in accordance with the ethics and standards of practice of their professional body, Art Therapists must continue to seek regular supervision and professional development.

To learn more, visit the CATA website!

Brief History of Art Therapy

Humans have always used art as a way of communicating and as a foundation element in creating healing ceremonies. Image is the language of the psyche, and art was our very first language as humans. Before we spoke, we made marks.

The term art therapy was first used in Britain and the United States during the post World War II rehabilitation movement, when it was recognized that art-making enhanced recovery, health and wellness. Many early 20th century psychiatrists and educators became interested in the artwork created by their patients, who then pioneered the role of art used in a professional therapeutic manner. In the 1960s, recognition of Art Therapy as an allied healthcare profession was attained after professional training standards came into being.

Art therapy draws and weaves threads from psychoanalytical thinking, developmental psychology, psychotherapy, and art expression. It also rests upon a foundation of cultural and traditional ritual elements in the way it is facilitated.

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