Art Therapy
What is art psychotherapy?

Art psychotherapy is based on the premise that unconscious thoughts and feelings are expressed through spontaneous imagery (2 & 3-dimensional forms), rather than in words. Unlike verbal communication, art making decreases censorship and one’s personal story is told through nonverbal metaphors. The artwork serves as a safe channel for communication, a vehicle for developing a therapeutic relationship between a client/therapist, and a permanent record of treatment. Art renderings may be explored at the time of creation, or at any point in treatment. The art psychotherapy process supports creativity, encourages verbalization, aids in problem solving, fosters insight, increases self-esteem, supports internal controls, and may even expedite treatment. Art psychotherapy may function as a primary mode of psychological treatment, or an adjunct to verbal psychotherapy. One may be seen individually or within a group, or even in both contexts at certain times in treatment. The language of art is unique to each individual, and you don’t have to have artistic training to effectively engage in this modality.

What is an art psychotherapist?

An art psychotherapist is a masters level human service professional who is skilled in various art modalities, and is trained in counseling and psychotherapy. One’s graduate education includes coursework in art therapy theory and other psychological theories, evaluation and treatment skills, human development, creative maturity, spirituality, multiculturalism, artistic traditions, the healing potential of art, research, ethics/practice standards, and many other subjects. Art psychotherapists use the creative process in treatment for assessment, consultation purposes, and for research. While art psychotherapists may serve as primary therapists, they may also provide services as part of a clinical team (adjunct role) and in settings that include mental health, rehabilitation, medical and forensic institutions, schools, wellness centers, community outreach programs, corporations, open studios, and private practices.


Art Therapy Credentials

The educational, professional, and ethical standards for art psychotherapists in the United States are created and monitored by the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) and the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB). The AATA establishes and promotes standards for education in the art therapy field, so all graduate art therapy programs apply for approval by the AATA Education Program Approval Board (EPAB) and are monitored by them once approval is granted. Individual therapists are monitored by the Art Therapy Credentials Board, which was established by AATA as the national credentialing body for art therapy. Its mission is to endorse the competent and ethical practice of art therapy, as offered by two credentials; Registered Art Therapist (ATR), and Board-Certified Art Therapist (ATR-BC). Credential holders must adhere to the ATCB’s Code of Professional Practice, thus ensuring that the public is protected. As in other professions, our board certification is maintained though testing, continuing education, and professional monitoring. In many states, such as PA and NJ, art psychotherapists may also become licensed professional counselors (LPC), which may fall under the Board of Social Workers and/or Family Therapists.

*For more in depth information about art therapy, please visit:

American Art Therapy Association

Art Therapy Credentials Board

Delaware Valley Art Therapy Association