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Natural Awakenings Indianapolis

Art Therapy Expands in Indianapolis

Aug 04, 2015 01:58PM ● By Kristi Gmutza

Art therapy is a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by an art therapist, use art media, the creative process and the resulting works to explore their emotions, reconcile emotional conflicts and foster self-awareness. It helps improve or restore a client’s functioning and his or her sense of personal well-being.

Art therapy emerged as a mental health profession in the 1940s. Today, it’s widely practiced in a variety of settings, including hospitals, psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities, wellness centers, forensic institutions, schools, crisis centers, senior communities, private practice and other clinical and community settings. Research supports the use and benefits of art therapy for individuals that experience illness, trauma and mental health problems, plus those seeking personal growth.

Artistic talent, expertise and interest are not requirements to benefiting from art therapy. The activity draws forth the inherent capacity for art making to enhance physical, mental and emotional well-being. Individuals that benefit from art therapy include those that have survived trauma resulting from combat, abuse and natural disasters; are dealing with adverse physical health conditions such as cancer, traumatic brain injury and other disabilities; and those with autism, dementia, depression and other disorders. Art therapy helps people resolve conflicts, improve interpersonal skills, manage problematic behaviors, reduce negative stress and achieve personal insight. It also provides an opportunity to enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of art making.

Art therapists are master’s-level professionals holding degrees in art therapy or related fields. Knowledge of the creative process and visual art, including drawing, painting, sculpture, and other art forms is required. Art therapists are also trained in theories and techniques of human development, psychology and counseling. Local colleges and universities offering undergraduate programs include University of Indianapolis, Vincennes University, Indiana Wesleyan University, University of Evansville, and Marian University. The Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College offer graduate-level art therapy programs.

The profession of art therapy is growing in Indiana and the Indianapolis area, and is found in settings ranging from children’s hospitals and cancer treatment centers to psychiatric and chemical dependency programs.

For more information and for a listing of art therapy programs throughout the state, email the Indiana Art Therapy Association at [email protected] or visit
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