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Art Therapy Article

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What Is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is the professional therapeutic method using artwork to help individuals who desire personal growth, development or discovery. Often a person seeking art therapy has not achieved the growth due to trauma, personal crisis, illness, and certain challenges that have affected their life.

People of all ages and background use art therapy. Development progress is directed by a professional art therapist who has been trained extensively regarding human development, artistic traditions in a multitude of cultures, psychological theories, and the healing abilities through the expression of art.

Some people seek these services through art therapy because they cannot articulate about their true state of mind through words, emotions, and feelings. Others simply find they best express their inner feelings through some form of unfettered creativity.

The professional settings that participate with art therapy methods are mental health services, rehabilitation, medical institutions, education services, nursing homes, corporations, forensic agencies, community outreach, and independent practices.

Strict standards for art therapy have been established by the American Art Therapy Association, Inc. (AATA) and The Art Therapy Credentials Board, Inc. (ATCB).

Some individual states regulate their own practices of art therapy, while other states allow art therapists to become licensed counselors or mental health therapists. These art therapists utilize art-based assessment instruments to determine their client's level of functioning.

From this they are able to formulate a certain level of treatment objectives, decide what strengths and weaknesses their client has, gain a better understanding of who their client is and the problems they have, and evaluate their client's progress.

The Master level of training and education for an art therapist is mandatory, as ensuring the appropriate usage and application of drawing tests, evaluation of the instrument validity. Its reliability is extremely important to better serve the client.

According to Donna J. Betts, Ph.D., ATR-BC, in her 2005 Doctoral Dissertation, some of the top art therapy tests that can be used are:

• Favorite Kind of Day (AFKOD)
• Person Picking an Apple from a Tree (PPAT)
• Bird’s Nest Drawing (BND)
• Bridge Drawing
• Diagnostic Drawing Series (DDS)
• Child Diagnostic Drawing Series (CDDS)

Rating instruments are also investigated, which can include:

• Descriptive Assessment of Psychiatric Art (DAPA)
• DDS Rating Guide and Drawing Analysis Form (DAF)
• Formal Elements Art Therapy Scale (FEATS).

These are just a few of the art therapy assessment tools that can be used by art therapists, in clinical settings or in research. Each art therapy tool is a structured assessment that are collected under standardized conditions. Most are developed to provide a compatibility with psychological testing and psychiatric evaluations:

• Art Therapy-Projective Imagery Assessment (ATPIA)
• Draw-A-Story Screening for Depression (DAS)
• Used to identify children and adolescents at risk for harming others or themselves.
• Through the artwork, it can be seen that significant differences will emerge between aggressive and non-aggressive groups in its emotional content and self-image.

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