What Is Art Therapy

Art therapy combines the creative process and psychotherapy, facilitating self-exploration and understanding. Using imagery, colour and shape as part of this creative therapeutic process, thoughts and feelings can be expressed that would otherwise be difficult to articulate. Art Therapy is provided in a therapeutic setting with a trained Art Therapist.

There are certain qualifications required of art therapists.

In Canada and the United States, Art Therapists must have at minimum a master’s degree or a master’s level diploma in art therapy before identifying themselves within the profession. This graduate level education includes supervised clinical practicum hours (minimum requirement for all practicums is 700 hours and at least 350 of these hours should involve direct client contact), thus ensuring the safety of the client.

Why Work with an Art Therapist?

Art Therapists are trained professionals with expertise in Counseling Psychology and fine arts.

In Canada and the United States, Art Therapists must have at minimum a master’s degree or a master’s level diploma in art therapy before identifying themselves within the profession. This graduate level education includes supervised clinical practicum hours (1000 hours for Canadian art therapists), thus ensuring the safety of the client as well as professional liability for agencies and employers offering this form of therapy.

A Registered Canadian Art Therapist (RCAT) is a Professional Member in good standing that received additional training in the profession, clinical supervision (50 hours for 1000 client contact hours) beyond graduation, displays involvement in the Art Therapy community and are experienced in working with a variety of clients in diverse settings.

To graduate, Art Therapists are required to have at least 1000 hours of supervised art therapy practicum hours. This ensures that graduated art therapists have a deep and professional understanding in working with clients and ensures client safety when working with deep psychological issues. As working professionals, Professional and Registered Canadian Art Therapists are required to have professional liability insurance to offer art therapy.

How is Art Therapy Helpful for First Responders and Veterans?

You may feel that it is just art and crafts, but a highly trained art therapist can assist you in not only working through PTSD and OSI but can help with other issues that surround those injuries like Depression and Substance abuse/misuse. Often when trauma is experienced it is hard to put those feelings in to words or describe how this is impacting you, Art Therapy can not only help put those feelings in to words but create a sense of competency and mastery in dealing with them.

“Sometimes you may feel like you don’t have the words to express how you feel. In other situations, you may not even be totally sure of what you’re feeling. Art therapy fosters self awareness and communication to help you identify and express these thoughts and emotions. In this way, you’ll be empowered to better communicate what you’re feeling, which can help with other treatment modalities” Heroes’ Mile.

Where can I find an Art Therapist in Canada?

To find a Professional or Registered member of Canadian Art Therapy Association (CATA)

Creative Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy - Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association

What about making art myself?

Making your own art is also a great wellness tool and can be as simple as

  • doodle
  • zentangling
  • using a colouring book

Our exploring fine arts like

  • painting
  • sculpture
  • pottery
  • carving
  • wood burning
  • woodworking
  • sewing
  • knitting 
  • crocheting
Colouring page Horse

All can have benefits on helping us reduce stress, increase focus, and help in expressing ourselves. Engaging in art making, journal writing, and other creative endeavours has been shown to increase resiliency, improve our immune systems, release unneeded energy and emotions in a safe way and help us feel more competent and able to cope.

Even going and seeing art in a gallery can have many positive effects. It’s true—recent studies and research have proven that a trip to the art gallery or a museum can positively impact your health and well-being in several essential ways, like lowering anxiety and depression and boosting critical thinking skills.

Why art is good for your body & soul

Looking for a community or private group that creates art together?