Art Therapy Program
The American Art Therapy Association defines art therapy as “an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship” (2017). Art therapy is rooted in the principle that creative expression can often communicate what words alone cannot.
Art Therapists serve a wide range of populations and work in a variety of settings. Art therapy can be facilitated within the individual, group, and family therapy formats. Materials used in art therapy vary based on individual needs. Art therapists may facilitate more structured tasks or more open-ended directives based on treatment needs and goals. Art Therapy can assist clients in working through trauma, addressing behavioral concerns, promoting insight, enhancing social skills, increasing conflict resolution, working through substance use issues, addressing family discord, improving self-esteem, fostering resiliency, and increasing self-awareness. Through participation in the creative process, clients can gain a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them.
Art Therapy can be particularly beneficial for clients who are struggling to progress in traditional talk therapy. Since art therapy processes can be largely non-verbal, clients are able to express and process through complex issues in a non-confrontational manner that may be more conducive to their individual needs. Art Therapy offers a safe place for expression where the client can explore and work to resolve presenting issues through creative metaphor versus verbal processing.
Although art therapists require education and supervised experience to practice, a client participating in art therapy services requires no formal art knowledge, training, or skill. Art Therapy fosters creativity, celebrates strengths, caters to developmental needs, and provides an outlet for inner turmoil and emotional distress. Many children and adolescents gravitate towards this method of communication. Art therapy can complement their journey of self-awareness in a vital way. In the safety of the art therapy space and the art-making process, children and teens communicate in a manner that goes beyond what words alone can express. They are the creator of the art product and the meaning-maker of their imagery. The art therapist does not interpret or place judgment on their created artwork which further reinforces the safety of the space.
Art Therapy services at Newport News Behavioral Health Center are currently provided by graduate art therapy interns in the spring and fall semesters. Art Therapy Interns are supervised by at least one credentialed Art Therapist throughout their internship experience. Art Therapy interns work in both the residential treatment facility and the acute inpatient facility. Residents and patients may be referred to individual or group Art Therapy by the treatment team.