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Art therapy is a practice of healing which involves the patient or client creating images through various media – drawing, painting, sculpture, collage-making and photography. This branch of therapy is primarily used in mental healthcare for the healing or reducing of psychological, emotional and mental disorders. It is also, albeit less frequently, used in the treatment of physical disabilities. Popular among patients who are recovering from diseases and traumas, it is particularly useful for people who find verbal communication or emotional expression difficult or uncomfortable.
Therapy usually takes place in specially created studios, in clinical environments such as hospitals and private health practices, in schools and community centres or in patients’ homes. Therapists also work in secure facilities, such as prisons and sessions may be carried out in groups or on a one-to-one basis.
They work with people of all ages and will examine the art created by their clients or patients in order to form a clear understanding of their conditions. They also collaborate with other healthcare and education professionals, including general practitioners, nurses, psychologists, therapists and teachers, sometimes working in large teams.
Like any other therapist, art therapists will be expected to write detailed patient reports and discuss cases with other experts. As part of Continuing Professional Development, a requirement for all registered art therapists, they will attend conferences and workshops to share expertise and experience with others working in the field.