Imagination and Art Therapy

May 1, 2007

As an art therapist, it seems about time that I bring art therapy into the discussion of the imagination as the term has been used on this blog. The following paragraph is an adaptation that I edited from the longer, more comprehensive, description found on the web site of the American Art Therapy Association (AATA). To find out more about Art Therapy and AATA, take a look at the AATA web site.

Art therapists use art media, images, the creative art process and patient/client responses to the created products as reflections of an individual’s development, abilities, personality, interests, concerns and conflicts. Art Therapy practice is based on knowledge of human developmental and psychological theories which are implemented in the full spectrum of models of assessment and treatment including educational, psychodynamic, cognitive, transpersonal and other therapeutic means of reconciling emotional conflicts, fostering self-awareness, developing social skills, managing behavior, solving problems, reducing anxiety, aiding reality orientation and increasing self-esteem. Art Therapy is an effective treatment for the developmentally, medically, educationally, socially, or psychologically impaired; and is practiced in mental health, rehabilitation, medical, educational, and forensic institutions.

Since art therapists use art they therefore also use imagery in their work. The use of art imagery can be a direct interaction with the imagination or it can be a vehicle for illustrating an experience in the imagination. Using guided imagery, in art therapy or without, does not require the use of art, but can be a way to interact directly in the domain of the imagination. The imagination is engaged in either process but in different ways. You can find out more about guided imagery at my web site, The Inward Eye; at the Academy for Guided Imagery; at Dr. Marty Rossman’s web site, The Healing Mind; or read the article, “Imagine That”, by Marian Sandmaier (originally published as “Ask the Bunny” in Oprah Magazine in January of 2006).

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