Art Therapy is a discipline within therapeutic treatment that taps into humans’ innate ability to express thoughts, feelings, and emotions through imagery. As a nonverbal approach, Art Therapy is used in conjunction with talk therapy to help people process challenging or painful experiences.
The foundational premise of Art Therapy is that humans have an unconscious aspect of existence that is difficult to understand and express with words. Using various art mediums, clients in Art Therapy engage in the creative process to help access and explore both the unconscious and conscious elements of their lives affecting their mental health.
It’s often misunderstood that Art Therapy is a recreational experience or hobby, or that this approach to counseling is rudimentary and doesn’t require extensive training. Yet, Art Therapy was founded in the mid-twentieth century and has since been verified as a specialized, master’s-level therapeutic modality.
In some cases, general mental health practitioners take a workshop or entry-level coursework about incorporating art into their practice. However, in most states, a registered Art Therapist has to receive additional schooling and licensing to practice Art Therapy. Therefore, it’s important for clients interested in Art Therapy to find a properly trained and licensed clinician.
Research shows that when integrated with traditional talk methods, Art Therapy allows clients to lower defenses and ease a sense of control, which leads to a safer, more effective processing of thoughts, emotions, and trauma. As such, Art Therapy can be used to treat a variety of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, among others.
The field of neuroscience demonstrates that when clients recall difficult experiences using talk therapy alone, there is the potential for re-traumatization and further impairment of the nervous system. By accessing memories and experiences nonverbally through art, the risk of re-traumatization is reduced.
Using various materials—including pencils, markers, paint, clay, and collage—clients will explore the thoughts, feelings, and ideas that surface during the therapy session. Sometimes, the Art Therapist will offer a creative directive that can help to stimulate the expressive experience in therapy, while other times, imagery may be more spontaneous and less directive.
This is all done alongside other trauma-informed modalities that promote healing and relaxation. Clients have an opportunity to process their ideas verbally, though it may not always be necessary.
In addition to being a gentle, nonverbal approach, Art Therapy targets unconscious elements of the human condition where the origins of emotional pain often get buried for years on end. When trauma is unearthed in the soothing atmosphere of Art Therapy, meaningful healing can take place.
For our founder Janeen, Art has always been an important part of her life, and she has been an artist for longer than she has been a counselor. When she decided to pursue a profession in mental health, she knew she wanted her work to remain creative in some way. So, in 2010, she received a Master’s in Clinical Art Therapy from Long Island University with the intention of pursuing a private practice as a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist (LCAT).
We are passionate about sharing the power of creative expression with our clients and believe that everyone can benefit from Art Therapy activities. And we have treated a diverse array of clients struggling with a variety of challenges—including grief, anxiety, depression, trauma, and adoption-related issues—using art.
Like most Licensed Creative Arts Therapists, there is a degree of traditional talk therapy integrated into our approach, and it’s important that our clients feel safe to verbally process their experiences with us. We have therapists who are trained in both trauma-informed talk methods and mindfulness to help clients feel calm and self-aware. And we may use guided meditation in some cases to stimulate exploration and creativity.
Though we ascribe to the ideology that all humans can be creative and express themselves, we don’t believe that you have to think of yourself as an artist or creative type to benefit from Art Therapy. Instead, we will meet you where you are—regardless of skill level—to help you feel open to the idea of creating something. Art Therapy is not about making the next masterpiece; it’s about genuinely expressing what you think and how you feel.
If you are struggling with setbacks to your mental health, Art Therapy can help you process your experiences in a way that promotes relaxation, healing, and recovery.
11 Gleaner Lane,
Levittown, NY 11756
2506 Mermaid Ave,
Wantagh, NY 11793
4133 Merrick Rd,
Massapequa, NY 11758
ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ
25 Ocean Blvd, #2, Atlantic Highlands, NJ 07716