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The application and analysis of modeling perception and life through the arts as an aid in the treatment, assessment or research of mental health issues. This type of psychotherapy is based upon the assumption that with an art therapist, an engagement in life-enhancing creative processes and analyses of these processes and models will increase awareness and empathy with external reality and within one's self, improve skills to cope with symptoms, experiences and trauma, enhance cognitive abilities and joy in creative processes of life, and enable acceptance of one's participation in both inevitable and voluntary processes.
A restrictive use of the term art therapy would apply to the visual arts as opposed to the performing arts as a category of expressive arts therapy or creative arts therapy, which include art or visual arts therapy, dance therapy, drama therapy, music therapy, poetry therapy and psychodrama.
The American Art Therapy Association defines Art Therapy as: Art therapy is based on the belief that the creative process involved in the making of art is healing and life-enhancing. Through creating art and talking about art and the process of art making with an art therapist, one can increase awareness of self, cope with symptoms, stress, and traumatic experiences, enhance cognitive abilities, and enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of artistic creativity.
Art therapists are professionals trained in both art and therapy and hold a masters degree in art therapy or a related field. Art therapists work with children, adolescents, and adults and provide services to individuals, couples, families, groups, and communities.
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