Art therapy is a form of therapy that integrates psychotherapeutic techniques with creativity processes. It typically uses paints, crayons, markers, chalks and even sculpting materials to help a person improve or enhance his mental, physical and emotional well-being. While some people are true art therapists, many other careers incorporate these techniques in daily work.
Recreational therapists work to design activities that help disabled people lead more independent and fulfilled lives, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. They work in a variety of settings, including rehabilitation centers, hospitals, long-term facilities and residential communities. Many professional recreational therapists use art therapy techniques with their patients or clients to help them recover basic skills, reduce anxiety and depression, and learn how to socialize with others again.
Many counselors, including psychiatrists and psychologists, use art therapy in their practices. This technique gives their patients an outlet to express feelings that may be repressed or not easy to communicate clearly with words. Art therapy also helps counselors gain insights into their patients’ subconscious. For example, counselors who work in psychiatric or substance abuse facilities may use art therapy to help their patients release unexpressed rage or sadness. Child counselors may ask their young clients to draw a picture of a traumatizing experience to gain insight into the child’s perspective of the incident.
Physical therapists work to help disabled or injured patients recover their motor skills and basic movements. Art therapy can help patients relearn how to use their hands and arms through broad painting strokes. Using molding clay and sculpting techniques may also help recovering patients build muscle strength and flexibility in their hands and arms.
Special Education Teachers
Most special education teachers work with children who have learning disabilities and communication problems. While their students may have learning issues associated with left-brain subjects, they are often naturally talented with right-brain projects that tap into their creative side. Art therapy gives special education teachers and students a fun platform to work on -- one they can be successful with that helps build their self-esteem. Children who have speech problems are able to use art therapy to express their thoughts and emotions, which gives them a release and outlet for their frustrations and desires.