What is art therapy and where to find it in San Diego - LaJolla.com

What is art therapy and where to find it in San Diego

Art therapy can be an effective tool to help those experiencing mental health issues find healing. Here’s where to find art therapy in San Diego.

There are a wide range of modalities that professional therapists use to treat mental health patients, and art therapy is one of the most popular ones.

In this article, we’ll cover what the practice is, what the benefits are, and where you can find art therapy in San Diego.

What is art therapy?

Art therapy is a tool used by professional therapists to help those living with mental health issues. It’s a creative therapy tool, much look dance therapy or music therapy.

Those living with mental health conditions will be guided through an art session by a seasoned professional art therapist. The person facilitating the process is the main differentiator between art therapy and a more traditional art class.

First developed in the 1940s, art therapy can be an effective tool for interpreting, expressing, and resolving complex emotions and thoughts.

It’s worth noting that art therapy can help those with anxiety, depression, or similar issues. But, it can just as easily be used to help those living with serious physical health conditions such as cancer.

How does art therapy work?

Art therapy generally involves a licensed professional art therapist guiding a patient through a session. During any such session, a patient may choose a medium, which can include one of the following:

  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Collage
  • Sculpture
  • Weaving
  • And more

One of the most important parts is that clients don’t need to naturally creative or artistically talented to benefit from art therapy. The therapist will guide a patient through the process, generally by asking them questions.

When an art therapy session is done, the therapist and patient will generally describe the results of the work. They might talk about the actual piece of art produced during the session, and how it made the patient feel.

Art therapists may also “assign” or encourage patients to try out additional creative practices at home.

What are the benefits of art therapy?

Art therapy is generally thought of as an effective tool for helping those with mental health illnesses work through complex thoughts and emotions. Generally, the act of creating a piece of work could help a person understand their thoughts and emotions better.

Because many people don’t practice art or creative disciplines on a regular basis, art therapy can help a person with mental health issues gain a new perspective on their thoughts and emotions.

Many studies have shown that art therapy is good for a variety of conditions related to mood, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Trauma
  • Low self-esteem

Of course, creativity and creating art are both also generally good for mental health. Studies show that being creative can boost immune system function, increase positive emotions, and reduce the symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression.

Are adult coloring books considered art therapy?

When you think of art practices that boost mental health, you may think of adult coloring books. Although adult coloring books have exploded in popularity in the last few years, they’re not exactly art therapy.

According to the American Art Therapy Association, adult coloring books are not considered art therapy. Although they can be a self-care practice that boosts mental health, they differ from actual art therapy because they’re not typically facilitated by a trained art therapist.

On the other hand, the American Art Therapy Association does not discourage the use of adult coloring books. If you like them and they help you calm down, use them! For more serious mental health conditions, however, you should speak with a licensed art therapist.

Where to find art therapy in San Diego?

There are many places where a licensed art therapist can provide their services, including hospitals, schools, psychiatric or rehabilitation facilities, crisis centers, and senior communities.

As you might expect, there are hundreds of places throughout San Diego that offer art therapy services. When considering an art therapist, you just want to make sure that they’re a licensed and professional therapist with proper credentials and training.

Along with more short-term art therapy sessions, many supportive housing units, including Experience Structured Living, provide art therapy as one of their many services. You can find more about this at ExperienceStructuredLiving.com.