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Art Therapy Myths Part 2

Hello! I'm Rachel, a board-certified art therapist and licensed professional counselor supervisor. In this blog post, I am de-bunking some myths about art therapy!!

Myth: An Art Therapist can tell all about me from the picture I create.

Fact: Nope! We are not mind readers. Although some aspects of art tend to have common meanings in a particular culture, I cannot definitely know anything in particular about you based solely on your art. Only you know why you chose a certain color or shape, or why you chose to use a specific medium. I never assume the meaning behind an image, but ask questions about it instead. Sometimes you might not even know why you chose a certain color or shape, or why you were drawn to a particular image or symbol. The discussions we have about your artwork can help you identify and understand the thoughts, feelings, and emotions behind it and caused by it.

Myth: My adult coloring book is art therapy / the art I do on my own is art therapy.

Fact: While doing any kind of art can help with relaxation or stress reduction, it is not art therapy unless you are doing art with a trained art therapist. Art therapists can help you understand your art and the thoughts and feeling you are dealing with. Even though doing art on your own can be helpful, having a professional to discuss it with and to provide you with feedback and (gasp!) homework assignments can deepen your understanding and speed up your processing of a difficult event.

Myth: Art Therapy is like an art class.

Fact: In an art class you would learn how to do a specific technique or project. While you may receive some instruction on the proper use of art materials during an art therapy session, that is not the focus. The purpose of art therapy is to use the art materials and the art-making process to gain a better understanding of your personal experiences. In an art class, there may be an expectation that you do the project in a specific way. In art therapy, there is no “right” or “wrong” way. You are given the ingredients and the way you combine them is unique to you!

Myth: Any therapist who uses art in a session is an Art Therapist.

Fact: Art therapy is a mental health profession and there are specific training and experience requirements in order to become an art therapist. Some of the training art therapists receive, that other mental health professionals do not, include studio art experience, facilitating art making during sessions, identifying appropriate art materials to use with each client, safety related to different art materials, and how to use art making and art materials to help accomplish mental health goals.

Myth: Any artist can be an Art Therapist.

Fact: Similar to the previous myth, this is just not true. Artists can teach you different techniques so that you are more comfortable making art. But, artists do not receive the same training as art therapists. Art Therapists have training in both art and psychology/counseling in order to best help you.

In my previous blog post, Art Therapy Myths, I talked about 4 other art therapy myths. If you have heard anything about art therapy that I have discussed, or have any questions that I have not answered, please feel free to send me an email, fill out the contact form, or DM me on social media! I would love to answer any of your questions.

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