Art Therapy: An Adjunct in the Therapeutic Process

Art Therapy: An Adjunct in the Therapeutic Process

By: Julia Massa

Art therapy is defined as “an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.” Art therapy is used as an adjunct in the therapeutic process when working with diverse populations, but predominately children. This type of therapy can be exceptionally beneficial for parents of a child who has a medical illness or struggles with expressing or verbalizing their feelings or thoughts. Though this form of therapy is not commonly used when treating the adult population, it is frequently used diagnostically for those experiencing illness, trauma, or a mental health condition. For instance, art therapy can be an effective treatment for individuals diagnosed with cancer or traumatic brain injury.

Art therapists typically work in hospitals, psychiatric, and rehabilitation settings, as well as other clinical and community settings. In particular, art therapy can help support an individual’s ability to cope with certain medical challenges as well as long or short-term hospitalizations. This type of therapy can serve as an outlet for those who have difficulty expressing their daily thoughts. The creative process allows an individual to foster self-esteem as well as self-awareness.

Using a variety of forms of expressive art, such as dance, music, writing, visual arts, drama, etc. can allow an individual to not only express, but reflect on their own thoughts and emotions. In turn, an individual can explore and understand why they react to their experiences in a particular way and how they can initiate change.  Art therapy can be a key enhancer towards personal growth.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit


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