Art and Healing


Hi guys,


I’ve been getting questions about how nonclinical work might look and feel different, especially from art therapists who have a a degree in clinical art therapy training and have been working in the clinical realm vs someone with artistic skills healing clients process emotional wounds through the the use of art.


I have experience in both sectors. As a therapist I was taught methods of an art therapist clinical work due to the weekly professional leaning meetings we had to attend during training called supervision. One of the therapist I was getting training under was an art therapist. I've been highly favored as far as being trained by a variety of people. However, when you do try to switch to or just introduce a bit of nonclinical art therapy into your practice or business, like I do now as trauma-informed nutritionist it can get confusing, to understand how one is different from the other. most times you can tell the difference by the title of the offer such as creative arts, therapeutic art, expressive art, healing art, are known for non-clinical business offers.


Based on my experience of doing these two types of work in the past as a therapist working in the mental health and substance abuse field, I am sharing the differences I’ve seen and was trained in. So of course, these are not hard and fast rules about art therapy services at all, but it can give you some guidelines and boundaries to satisfied your impostors syndrome of thinking you can't teach art unless you are a license therapist. This is not true. What you can't do is call yourself an art therapist. Art is a hobby, a tool, a creative pursuit that anyone can use even for healing. Just stay in your scope of practice and just say you are using art as a tool which you are. You are not trying to call yourself an art therapist. I hope that give you a bit of peace coming from someone who has worked in both industry. If you seek to venture into nonclinical world, do it. You don't need anyone permission to use art to help your clients. however, you do need to obtain a degree in the field of mental health if you want to call yourself an art therapist. Got it. Good. Let's move on.


Hopefully this will clear up any confusion and give your a crystal clear idea of what you can offer differently for nonclinical art therapy services. Continue below to see the differences between the two.


Clinical art therapy services are broad and general. It encompasses a lot. Usually it’s not specific. When I worked in the mental health and substance abuse field we saw a variety of patients. I had 40 caseloads of a variety of conditions and I manage another 20 caseload in my private practice as a marriage and family counselors, all of this along with heavy administration and I would be scrambling to keep on top of emails, return phone calls, and complete my psychotherapy notes, supervisor meetings and service logs for the week.


A Art therapist is an art therapist, and they have similar task and schedules so they help everyone from those who are dealing with anxiety to OCD to trauma to personality disorders in the clinical realm just like I did. However, with nonclinical art therapy, the services are usually more specific, and it has a focus on serving specific types of people.


Usually nonclinical art therapy services are specifically titled or named like: creative arts, therapeutic art, expressive art, healing art, self-discovery through art, or expressive painting to release anger, or creating angel oracle cards for personal growth, or using clay or adult coloring to work to improve self-esteem in children and adults. In clinical work, sessions are just sessions especially in terms of 1:1 work. I hope this helps.


Dr. Nikki LeToya White


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