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Art Therapy

What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of visual art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Art therapy is used in a variety of clinical settings and can be beneficial for people of all ages. Sessions are conducted by Master’s level clinicians specifically trained in art therapy

The American Art Therapy Association (AATA) endorses evidence-based research in the field that confirms:

  • The creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and achieve insight.
  • Art Therapy can be helpful with a variety of populations to cope with anxiety, depression, addictions, relationship issues, trauma, social difficulties, physical, cognitive, and neurological problems and psychosocial issues related to medical illness.
  • Art Therapy can be implemented in various settings including, medical hospitals, mental health facilities, rehabilitation centers, educational institutions, nursing homes, day care centers, forensic facilities, community programs, disaster relief efforts and in private practice.

What is Art Therapy at UF Health Shands Hospital?

At UF Health Shands Hospital in the Arts in Medicine Program, Art therapy is being used with children, adolescents, and their families to support the medical healing process. Even the most compassionate care can be traumatic for patients and families. Art therapy is a way for people staying in the hospital to express, process, communicate or just release how they feel about the healthcare experience.

The art therapist may visit a patient at the bedside or may support patients and their families in small groups. Art therapy may be a single session or might take place in multiple visits depending on participant availability and the treatment plan.

Art therapy uses drawing, painting, sculpting, collage, and digital media as tools to:

  • Process feelings about a new diagnosis,
  • Cope with a long-term hospital stay,
  • Help patients participate in and cooperate with their treatment,
  • Rebuild self-esteem
  • Help manage pain from a condition or procedure
  • Support groups of patients with similar diagnosis
  • Support siblings and family members in caring for their loved one in the hospital
  • And more!

To participate in art therapy you do not need to have any “artistic skill”. You only need an open mind and a willingness to try something new.