Linda Brant, Ph.D., MFA
- Specializing in the use of visual art in therapy
- Consultation for practicing artists
What is Art Therapy?
Art Therapy involves the use of visual art processes (drawing, painting, sculpture, collage, photography and mixed media) to promote growth and healing. The process is grounded in traditional psychotherapy and can be used with a wide range of clients.
Is Art Therapy about art – or is it about therapy?
- Most approaches to art therapy emphasize the ‘therapy’ component. In such cases, visual art is used as a tool for discovering, expressing and working through personal conflicts and issues. Discussion of the art work is central to the process.
- Other approaches emphasize the ‘art’ component. In such approaches, the process of creativity and self-expression is believed to be healing in and of itself. This approach centers on the development of a personal and professional identity as an artist.
Dr. Brant uses both approaches in her work with clients.
Who gets Art Therapy?
Art therapy can be used with almost any population. It has been used with children, adolescents, adults and the elderly. Studies have been done on many populations. Examples of people who have benefitted from art therapy include:
- Children and adults with disabilities and/or emotional challenges
- Adolescents and adults in recovery for substance abuse disorders
- Individuals seeking personal growth and life enrichment
- Adults with psychiatric conditions (depression, bipolar, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc…)
- Adults receiving medical care for cancer and other serious illnesses
- Hospice patients
- People with dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease
- People who experience chronic pain
What are the goals of Art Therapy?
The goals of art therapy are similar to the goals of other forms of therapy. Art therapy facilitates awareness, communication, self-understanding, catharsis, and problem solving.
How exactly is Art Therapy done?
Art therapy nearly always involves two related processes:
- Doing image-making, expressing, creating something
- Reflecting thinking about work that has been created, understanding it, discussing its meaning and its symbolism, reflecting on the process of creating the work
Do I have to be an artist to participate in Art Therapy?
- Most art therapy clients have little or no art experience. It is important, however, that clients have an interest in using visual art for self-understanding and growth.
Are there any unique advantages to art therapy?
- Art therapy is advantageous primarily because it is a form of non-verbal expression. People with limited verbal skills can often express themselves more effectively with images. People with advanced verbal skills are challenged to think in new ways.
- As people focus on art-making, they often become absorbed in the process. This is experienced as calming and centering – much like meditation.
- Difficult issues can be initially approached and explored through the art, and later discussed.
- Over time, a tangible ‘record’ of progress emerges. The change process is documented through the art works that are created.
- Some clients begin to develop their artistic skills during the therapy process and continue to use these skills for personal or professional endeavors after the therapy process has ended.