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Art Therapy

Even though art therapy has been used in some fashion since at least the first half of the twentieth century its range of helpful effects is still only partially explored and therapists constantly invent new ways to use the arts to assist people with physical disabilities and psychological problems. The depth of possibilities inherent in this therapy are expressed by one art therapist who asks that the reader imagine a medicine so powerful that "it could revitalize your spirit, giving you a dose of self-esteem and a joyful purpose in life" while also "induc[ing] deep meditation, allowing you to forget your pain and resolve any fears about the future, thereby boosting your immune system" (Longman, 1994, p. 64). But in many instances there is a lack of knowledge about art therapy--among caregivers as well as among those who could benefit from it. As Ulman (2001) points out, the term is used to refer to a variety of practices with many different aims and there are numerous different kinds of certification and even many art therapists who practice without extensive training. And art therapists are employed at "psychiatric hospitals and nursing homes, at drug treatment centers schools for the handicapped, juvenile detention homes, and sometimes, even in special education classes in public schools" (DeVore, 1989, p. 20). What all art therapy has in common, however, is that engaging in an art practice is "used in some attempt to assist integration or reintegration of personality" (Ulman, p. 16). This is true even among those therapists whose work is with physically disabled persons where art therapy can assist in mental and physical rehabilitation.

The term "art therapy" is used here to refer primarily to work with the visual arts. As DeVore (1989) notes, the term is sometimes used to refer to a number of activities--although the more general "arts therapy" or "creative therapy" work better--and therapists can be certified by asso...

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Art Therapy. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:10, November 30, 2021, from