Creative Arts Therapy

What are Creative Arts Therapies ?

Creative arts therapies are evidence-based health professions practiced throughout Ireland and in more than 40 countries around the world. The term includes four professions: art therapy, dance movement therapy, dramatherapy and music therapy

Creative arts therapies is an umbrella term for healthcare professions that use the creative and expressive process of art making to improve and enhance the psychological and social well-being of individuals of all ages and health conditions.

Creative arts therapies use the relationship between the client and therapist and among clients in group or dyadic therapy in the context of the creative-expressive process as a dynamic and vital force for growth and change.

The creative-expressive process engages physiological sensations, emotions, and cognition; facilitates verbal and non-verbal symbolization, narration, and expression of conscious or unconscious conflicts and meaning-making through internal and external dialogue and communication between oneself and others.

They integrate knowledge of art with principles of psychotherapy and related fields. 

How Do Creative Arts Therapies Work?

Methods used in the creative arts therapies include making images or sculptures, dance and movement, voice work, dramatic play, mime, role-play, singing, improvisation on instruments, listening to music and song writing. The creative arts therapies offer a supportive environment, where people can communicate and work through emotions using the art form as a vehicle for emotional self-expression, interaction and change.  

These therapies provide a safe, supportive environment to enable and encourage the person to express her/himself in whatever creative way possible, encouraging self-expression and development supported by the therapeutic relationship.  

Central to creative arts therapies is the therapeutic bond that develops between the therapist and client. In a typical session the therapist facilitates experiences that are meant to target clinical goals and objectives. Clinicians use evidence-based methods in the application of the art form and use a variety of techniques and arts media. 


The Art Form in Creative Arts Therapies

The art form is used to contain and give meaning to the person’s experience, and is used as a bridge to verbal dialogue and insight based psychological development if appropriate. The aim is to enable the person to experience him/herself differently and develop new ways of relating to others (National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, 2010, p. 252).


Where do Creative Arts Therapists Work?

Creative arts therapists work with individuals and groups across a spectrum of ages from children to adults of all ages and stage of life. They work in a variety of settings including hospitals, educational institutions, community mental health facilities, prisons, hospices. Creative arts therapists often work as an integrated part of multidisciplinary teams, assessing clients’ needs, designing and implementing therapy programmes, and evaluating interventions. Therapists also work in private practice. 


Taken from “Creative Arts Therapies: What Psychologists Need to Know” by Bill Ahessy. 


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