What is Art Therapy?

“Art Therapy is an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.

Art Therapy, facilitated by a professional art therapist, effectively supports personal and relational treatment goals as well as community concerns. Art Therapy is used to improve cognitive and sensory-motor functions, foster self-esteem and self-awareness, cultivate emotional resilience, promote insight, enhance social skills, reduce and resolve conflicts and distress and advance societal and ecological change.”

– American Art Therapy Association

At Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, patients are able to express their thoughts and feelings through individualized art therapy sessions. Art therapy interventions facilitate the creation of art throughout a traditional talk therapy session. The art making process initiated in a session provides an opportunity for control where patients have little or no control over their hospital admission. Children may not have the words to communicate their thoughts and feelings, art making can support them in discovering the words to describe their personal and medical experiences. Creative therapeutic expression can promote independence, relaxation response, control and positive self-esteem. No previous experience with art is necessary to benefit from this service.

Who are Art Therapists?

“Art therapists are master-level clinicians who work with people of all ages across a broad spectrum of practice. Guided by ethical standards and scope of practice, their education and supervised training prepares them for culturally proficient work with diverse populations in a variety of settings. Honoring individuals’ values and beliefs, art therapists' work with people who are challenged with medical and mental health problems, as well as individuals seeking emotional, creative and spiritual growth.”

– American Art Therapy Association

At Packard Children’s Hospital, our Art Therapists are Master Level, Registered and/or Board Certified professionals who are trained in human development, psychological theory, counselling skills and clinical practice. Art therapists may utilize specific art directives to assess a patient’s mental health, facilitate opportunities for control, relaxation and self-expression, while continually incorporating evidence based research to enhance our patient’s quality of life. Art Therapy is currently offered on a referral basis in all Acute Care Patient Units (PCU 200, 300, 400) as well as in the Hematology/Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation units (PCU 160).

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