What is Art Therapy?

Well, it is definitely not the adult coloring book since there is no art therapist to supervise. It is a hybrid of art and psychology were no one needs any fancy artistic skill in order to do it. The therapist sees clients from all walks of life and uses art to improve their well-being and mental health. 

It started to become prominent in the 1940’s as a distinct discipline. The first person to coin the term art therapy was English artist Adrian Hill in 1942. He was being treated for tuberculosis in 1938 and discovered how art affects the mind and body. Hill’s work was expanded by artist Edward Adamson, who helped establish the British Association of Art Therapists in 1964.

In the United States art therapy was being pioneered by Margaret Naumburg who was coined the “mother of art therapy”. Naumburg was an educator and a therapist.  In 1915, she opened the Walden School in New York City after studying briefly with Maria Montessori in Italy.

Even though art therapy has grown, it is still considered relatively new by today’s standards it is used in a variety of settings such as schools and nursing homes. This type of therapy focuses on inner experience and not on the finished product. In other words, the art therapist is not there to criticise the client’s art, but there to facilitate deep healing.  

As you can see, art therapy is beneficial to society, especially mental health. When verbal communication therapy fails, art is there to the rescue. 

Works cited: 

Altman, Julie. (2009, February 27). Margaret Naumburg. Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia.  Retrieved from https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/naumburg-margaret

Bitonte, Robert A, and Marisa De Santo. (2014, July 3). Art Therapy: An Underutilized, yet Effective Tool. Mental illness vol. 6,1 5354. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4253394/

Diconsiglio, John. (2016 February). Color Me Cautious: Don’t Mistake Adult Coloring Books for Art Therapy. Retrieved from https://columbian.gwu.edu/color-me-cautious-don%E2%80%99t-mistake-adult-coloring-books-art-therapy

Fountain, Henry. (1996, February 10). Edward Adamson, 84, Therapist Who Used Art to Aid Mentally Ill. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/1996/02/10/world/edward-adamson-84-therapist-who-used-art-to-aid-mentally-ill.html