Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

Art Therapy: A Creative and Expressive Process

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

Art Therapy: A Creative and Expressive Process

Article excerpt

Art therapy is a relatively young therapeutic discipline. It first began around the mid-20th Century, arising independently in English-speaking and European areas. In England, as in the U.S., the roots of art therapy lay mainly in art education, the practice of art, and developmental psychology. According to David Edwards, an art therapist in Britain, numerous and often conflicting definitions of art therapy have been advanced since the term, and later the profession, first emerged in the late 1940s (Waller, 1979). Edwards states, "in the UK, the artist Adrian Hill is generally acknowledged to have been the first person to use the term 'art therapy' to describe the therapeutic application of image making. For Hill, who had discovered the therapeutic benefits of drawing and painting while recovering from tuberculosis, the value of art therapy lay in 'completely engrossing the mind and releasing the creative energy of the frequently inhibited patient' (Hill, 1948). So, the birth of art therapy goes back to the painter, Adrian Hill, who suggested artistic work to his fellow inpatients, while he was treated in a tuberculosis (T.B.) sanatorium. That began his artistic work with patients, which was also documented in 1945 in his book, "Art Versus Illness". Around the same time as Hill, U.S. pioneers Maigaret Naumburg and Dr. Edith Kramer started using art therapy. Naumburg's model of art therapy based its methods on: "Releasing the unconscious by means of spontaneous art expression; it has its roots in the transference relation between patient and therapist and on the encouragement of free association. It is closely allied to psychoanalytic theory...treatment depends on the development of the transference relation and on a continuous effort to obtain the patient's own interpretation of his symbolic designs...the images produced are a form of communication between patient and therapist; they constitute symbolic speech." In the late 1940s, Margaret Naumburg, created "psychodynamic art therapy" whereas, Edith Kramer derived art therapy out of artistic practice. According to New York University's website, "Margaret Naumburg, an eminent pioneer in the field, offered courses and training seminars on the graduate level in New York University's Department of Art and Art Professions. This tradition was continued when Edith Kramer came to the University in 1973 to develop a master's program in Art Therapy. By 1976, the Master of Arts in Art Therapy program had obtained approval from the New York State Education Department, and in 1979, New York University's Graduate Art Therapy program was one of the first of five programs to receive approval from the American Art Therapy Association."

Dr. Edith Kramer was bom in Vienna, Austria, where she studied art, drawing, sculpture and painting, during the Bauhaus movement. She maintains a studio where she paints, etches, and sculpts and specializes in art therapy with children and adolescents. The American Art Therapy Association gave Dr. Kramer the award of "Honorary Life Member," a mark of highest esteem. Dr. Kramer has authored seminal papers and books, and is renowned as a social realist painter, sculptor, print-maker and mosaicist. Kramer's starting point was art therapy work with children, which was documented among other groundbreaking literature, in the book, "Art as Therapy with Children." She also wrote Art Therapy in a Children's Community.

According to British Association of Art Therapists (2011), "Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art media as its primary mode of communication. It is practiced by qualified, registered Art Therapists who work with children, young people, adults and the elderly. Clients who can use art therapy may have a wide range of difficulties, disabilities or diagnoses. These include, for example, emotional, behavioral or mental health problems, learning or physical disabilities, life-limiting conditions, brain-injury or neurological conditions and physical illness. …

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