What This Art Therapist Does Not Do

I get a lot of hits to my blog from people searching on the topic of “a day in the life of an art therapist” and “what does an art therapist do?” I want to add to this conversation by telling you what I as an art therapist do NOT do.

I do NOT analyze your artwork  seeking out clues to your psyche.

I do NOT interpret imagery in your artwork to fit my theory about you.

I do NOT tell you what kind of artwork to make, as though to prescribe a cure.

I do NOT diagnose you based only on your artwork.

I do NOT share your artwork with anyone except other providers at the site, as it is confidential healthcare information.

I do NOT reveal your name or other identifying information if you have given me explicit written permission to share your artwork.

Here are some things I DO:

Provide you with the materials, space, instruction and time to create the artwork you want to make.

Support you in exploring the  imagery, themes and content of your work.

Give suggestions if you feel you are stuck in your artwork or want to explore something further.

Walk with you on your healing journey of the heart.

There are many misconceptions about what art therapists are and what they do. I won’t even go into the whole debate about “arts and healing” vs. “art therapy.” Art therapists are trained clinicians, yes clinicians, who have had years of schooling and internships to better assist our clients in exploring their challenges and struggles. Call it what you want, but I proudly call it Art Therapy.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nadene
    Oct 07, 2011 @ 20:02:40

    Amen, sister.


  2. sonrie
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 08:48:01

    I answer this question and define my role on a weekly, if not daily, basis. This is clear and concise.


  3. Sara
    Feb 02, 2012 @ 11:29:52

    Beautifully articulated!


  4. Pat Strong
    Mar 22, 2012 @ 13:52:30

    I just have a basic question for you. I am about to enter my masters program to become an art therapist. I love art, however, with all the art classes I have taken, I am not going through this program because how I am at art itself. Does one have to be good at art itself to go into these programs? I just worry that all the other students are going to be good artists. Or is it more about the therapy and not how I draw. Is it the interest that I can use to help people? Really need to know, for I only want to do my very best at this. Really appreciate your comment.


    • sonrie
      Mar 24, 2012 @ 05:17:13

      @ Pat, I always tell my clients that the process is more important than the product. That said, it’s important to have a working knowledge of various materials and techniques, though a lot of times if one is working abstract -using color, line, shape, etc to evoke feelings, memories, coping skills, then one’s talent should not matter, per se.
      Besides, everyone is “good” at different types of art – not everyone is a “good” drawer, some sew, weave, collage, paint, sculpt, etc. Good luck!


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