Art therapy is a powerful tool that can assist individuals who have experienced trauma or are facing various challenges in their lives, such as illness or personal crises. By utilizing artwork, art therapists, who possess extensive training in human development, psychological theories, artistic traditions from diverse cultures, and the healing potential of art, help individuals achieve personal growth and development.
A Universal Approach for All Ages
One of the remarkable aspects of art therapy is its versatility. It can be employed with individuals of any age, making it an inclusive therapeutic approach. Whether it is used in mental health services, medical institutions, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, educational settings, community outreach programs, private practices, corporations, or forensic agencies, art therapy has proven to be effective in facilitating emotional expression without relying solely on verbal communication.
Setting High Standards
To ensure the highest quality of care, the American Art Therapy Association, Inc., along with the Art Therapy Credentials Board, Inc., has established strict standards for art therapists. Additionally, certain states have their own specific requirements, allowing art therapists to practice as licensed counselors or mental health therapists. These standards guarantee that art therapists utilize art-based assessment instruments to evaluate their clients’ functioning levels accurately. This comprehensive evaluation enables them to establish treatment objectives, identify strengths and weaknesses, gain insight into their clients’ personalities, and assess progress effectively.
Education and Training: Masters Level Expertise
The field of art therapy demands a high level of expertise. Art therapists must complete education and training at the Masters level to ensure they possess the necessary skills to administer and interpret drawing tests accurately. By adhering to these rigorous educational standards, art therapists can provide reliable testing and deliver optimal results for their clients.
Assessments That Make a Difference
Donna J. Betts, Ph.D., ATR-BD, in her Doctoral Dissertations, highlights several art therapy tests that have proven to be highly effective:
- Person Picking an Apple from a Tree (PPAT)
- Favorite Kind Of Day (AFKOD)
- Bird’s Nest Drawing (BND)
- Diagnostic Drawing Series (DDS)
- Bridge Drawing
- Child Diagnostic Drawing Series (CDDS)
These assessments, along with the following instruments, have been extensively researched and validated:
- DDS Rating Guide & Drawing Analysis Form (DAF)
- Descriptive Assessment for Psychiatric Art (DAPA)
- Formal Elements of Art Therapy Scale (FEATS)
While this list represents only a fraction of the assessment tools used in art therapy, it demonstrates the structured approach employed by art therapists. These assessments are conducted under standardized conditions and often align with psychological and psychiatric evaluations. Some examples include the Draw-A-Story Screening used for Depression (DAS) and the Art Therapy Projective Imagery Assessment (ATPIA), which can help identify children or adolescents who may be at risk of self-harm or harm to others.
Unveiling Insights Through Artwork
Artwork created during therapy sessions can reveal significant differences between non-aggressive and aggressive groups in terms of self-image, emotional content, and other feelings. Moreover, art therapy aids individuals in gaining a deeper understanding of themselves and empowers them to overcome their challenges.