Art therapy is a creative method of expression used as a therapeutic technique. Art therapy originated in the fields of art and psychotherapy and may vary in definition. Art therapy may focus on the creative art-making process itself, as therapy, or on the analysis of expression gained through an exchange of patient and therapist interaction. The psychoanalytic approach was one of the earliest forms of art psychotherapy. This approach employs the transference process between the therapist and the client who makes art. The therapist interprets the client's symbolic self-expression as communicated in the art and elicits interpretations from the client. Analysis of transference is no longer always a component. Current art therapy includes a vast number of other approaches such as person-centered, cognitive, behavior, Gestalt, narrative, Adlerian, and family. The tenets of art therapy involve humanism, creativity, reconciling emotional conflicts, fostering self-awareness, and personal growth. As a mental health profession, art therapy is employed in many clinical and other settings with diverse populations. Art therapy can also be found in non-clinical settings, as well as in art studios and in creativity development workshops. Closely related in practice to marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors, U.S. art therapists are licensed under various titles, depending upon their individual qualifications and the type of licenses available in a given state. Art therapists may hold licenses as art therapists, creative arts therapists, marriage and family therapists, counselors of various types, psychologists, nurse practitioners, social workers, occupational therapists, or rehabilitation therapists. Art therapists may have received advanced degrees in art therapy or in a related field such as psychology in which case they would have to obtain post-master's or post-doctorate certification as an art therapist. Art therapists work with populations of all ages and with a wide variety of disorders and diseases. Art therapists provide services to children, adolescents, and adults, whether as individuals, couples, families, or groups.
Trauma in children
In Stella A. Stephney's book Art Therapy With Students At Risk: Fostering Resilience and Growth through Self-Expression, Stephney states that art therapy can be used to help at-risk children.
People always search for some escape from illness and it has been found that art is one of the more common methods. Art and the creative process can aid many illnesses (cancer, heart disease, influenza, etc.). People can escape the emotional effects of illness through art making and many creative methods. Sometimes people cannot express the way they feel, as it can be difficult to put into words, and art can help people express their experiences. "During art therapy, people can explore past, present and future experiences using art as a form of coping". Art can be a refuge for the intense emotions associated with illness; there are no limits to the imagination in finding creative ways to express emotions. Hospitals have started studying the influence of arts on patient care and found that participants in art programs have better vitals and fewer complications sleeping. Artistic influence doesn't need to be participation in a program, but studies have found that a landscape picture in a hospital room had reduced need for narcotic pain killers and less time in recovery at the hospital.
Art therapists have conducted studies to understand why some cancer patients turned to art making as a coping mechanism and a tool to creating a positive identity outside of being a cancer patient. Women in the study participated in different art programs ranging from pottery and card making to drawing and painting. The programs helped them regain an identity outside of having cancer, lessened emotional pain of their on-going fight with cancer, and also giving them hope for the future.
Art therapy has been used in a variety of traumatic experiences, including disaster relief and crisis intervention. Art therapists have worked with children, adolescents and adults after natural and manmade disasters, encouraging them to make art in response to their experiences. Some suggested strategies for working with victims of disaster include: assessing for distress or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), normalizing feelings, modeling coping skills, promoting relaxation skills, establishing a social support network, and increasing a sense of security and stability.
While art therapy helps with behavioral issues it does not appear to affect worsening mental abilities.Tentative evidence supports benefits with respect to quality of life.
Art therapy has not been studied much in autism as of 2011.
A 2005 systematic review of art therapy as an add on treatment for schizophrenia found unclear effects.
Diagnostic Drawing Series
The Diagnostic Drawing Series (DDS) is a three-picture art interview designed by Barry M. Cohen and Barbara Lesowitz in 1982. It is one of the most commonly taught art therapy assessments and, with more than 60 DDS studies to date, it is the most researched art therapy tool worldwide. Cohen and colleagues wrote the DDS Rating Guide that directs mental health professionals on how to score the DDS. The related research, based on the structure rather than the content of the drawings, offers a way for the art therapist to contribute to the diagnostic process.
Mandala Assessment Research Instrument
In this assessment, a person is asked to select a card from a deck with different mandalas (designs enclosed in a geometric shape) and then must choose a color from a set of colored cards. The person is then asked to draw the mandala from the card they choose with an oil pastel of the color of their choice. The artist is then asked to explain if there were any meanings, experiences, or related information related to the mandala they drew. This test is based on the beliefs of Joan Kellogg, who sees a recurring correlation between the images, pattern and shapes in the mandalas that people draw and the personalities of the artists. This test assesses and gives clues to a person's psychological progressions and their current psychological condition (Malchiodi 1998). The mandala originates in Buddhism; its connections with spirituality help us to see links with transpersonal art.
The House-Tree-Person test (HTP) is a projective test designed to measure aspects of a person's personality. The test can also be used to assess brain damage and general mental functioning. By virtue of being a projective test, the results of the HTP are subjective and open to interpretation by the administrator of the exam HTP was designed by John Buck and was originally based on the Goodenough scale of intellectual functioning. Buck included both qualitative and quantitative measurements of intellectual ability in the HTP (V). A 350-page manual was written by Buck to instruct the test-giver on proper grading of the HTP, which is more subjective than quantitative. In contrast with him, Zoltán Vass published a more sophisticated approach, based on system analysis.
Administering the Test:
HTP is given to persons above the age of three and takes approximately 150 minutes to complete based on the person's level of mental functioning. During the first phase, the test-taker is asked to draw the house, tree, and person and the test-giver asks questions each picture. There are 60 questions originally designed by Buck but art therapists and trained test administrators can also design their own questions, or ask follow up questions. This phase is done with a crayon.During the second phase of HTP, the test-taker draws the same pictures with a pencil or pen. Again the test-giver asks similar questions about the drawings. Note: some mental health professionals only administer phase one or two and may change the writing instrument as desired. Variations of the test may ask the person to draw one person of each sex, or put all drawings on the same page.
Interpretation of results:
The quantitative measure of intelligence for the House-tree-person has been shown to highly correlate with the WAIS and other well-established intelligence tests. The subjective analysis of the test takers responses and drawings aims to make inferences of personality traits and past experiences. The subjective nature of this aspect of the HTP, as with other qualitative tests, has little empirical evidence to support its reliability or validity. This test, however, is still considered an accurate measure of brain damage and used in the assessment of schizophrenic patients also suffering from brain damage.
In this drawing assessment and therapeutic intervention, the patient is asked to draw a road. This is a projective assessment used to create a graphic representation of the person's "road of life." The road drawing has the potential to elicit spontaneous imagery that represents the client's origins, the history of his or her life process, experiences to date, and intent for the future – even from a single drawing. The road's reparative features or its need for "periodic upgrade" can serve as a metaphor for client's capacity for change and restoration.