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Introduction to Art Therapy


Identify the Organization and the Activities that Make Up Art Therapy in the Country.

This paper analyzes art therapy in Australia. The objective of this paper is to identify the organization and the activities that make up art therapy in the country. Art therapy is a creative method of expression that is used as a therapeutic technique (Rappaport, 2009) . Art therapy originated from the fields of art and psychotherapy and it has different definitions among different people. Art therapy can simply be defined as the use of art as a method of treating a diseases or disability which could be mental or psychological. Art therapy focuses on creative art-making process itself as a form of therapy or on the analysis of expression that is gained through an interaction of the patient and the therapist. Art therapy takes place through the psychoanalytic approach which is one of the earliest forms of psychotherapy. The approach employs transference processes between therapist and the client. Under this process, the emotions and desires of one person are shifted to another person unconsciously and hence influencing the way they think and act. This process plays a very crucial role in treatment of mental illnesses and also in some physical treatment. This report contains the details of the leading role models, experts as well as practitioners in the art therapy practice. The leading facilities in providing art therapy to clients are discussed and the systems and process that they use to achieve good results are also elaborated. The types of art therapy and the settings under which the specific types are used is also discussed. The final section of the paper is a discussion of the research on art therapy that has been conducted in Australia and many other parts in the region and how this research has influenced art therapy practice.

Art therapy is a profession that traces back to 1940s when it began becoming popular in Europe as well as some parts of North America. This profession is very popular in North America and Europe and it is commonly practiced in schools to provide young people with social, emotional and mental support (Magniant, 2014). This helps in prevention of mental illnesses and in keeping people healthy mentally. Art therapy in Australia is emerging as a profession and there are not many people familiar with the profession and how it can be used to help treat mental and physical illnesses. Few schools and health facilities have been able to use art therapy to treat patient and help young people with mental health issues. Art therapy is a field that uses different forms of art to treat and reduce the effects of an illness on the patients. Visual art is effective in treatment and some of the forms of visual art used include paint, paper, clay, collage and found materials. These are used as the primary means of communicating to the patient. Performance and acting is also used to induce certain thoughts on the client and this string of thinking helps to influence the mind of the person to think in a particular manner. By using live performance, the client or patient is able to focus on the things they see and they are tailored towards providing mental therapy to the client. Art making is used as a means of personal expression and for externalizing thoughts and feelings. Art therapy helps to create a personal relationship between the art therapist and the client and hence help in creating an understanding that helps in creating a safe environment for the client to heal.

Art Therapy in Australia

Art therapy in Australia has an opportunity to grow and expand in popularity and hence significantly contribute to the promotion of the social and emotional well being of the society and especially young people. Currently, a number of schools in Australia are adopting art therapy to help students deal with mental health issues and the pressure that comes with their studies. Art therapy helps students to relax their minds and also provides social and psychological support to the students and hence helps to boast their learning and performance in school (Burt, Schaverien& Lala, 2011). The introduction of art therapy in schools as a form of providing social and psychological support to students is very important because, there are not many schools in Australia with an elaborate guidance and counseling program.

There are also various organizations that have been accredited to offer art therapy services to customers. Most of these organizations are private and they have professionally trained therapists who offer the services for a fee. Individual customers enroll at the institution for a particular period of time after which they are assessed to determine the level of progress they have made with the use of art therapy. The patients can then be released from the program after adequate progress has been made or their stay at the institution can be added. In Australia, there are some mental health facilities that apply art therapy as a mechanism of helping the mental patients recover. The hospitals employ qualified art therapy specialist who play a huge role in treatment of the mental health patients in these hospitals. In addition to this, art therapy courses are becoming increasingly popular especially in Universities and colleges that offer psychological related studies in Australia (Potash, Chan& Kalmanowitz, 2012). This factor will play a very important role in spreading the use and popularity of art therapy in Australia. This in turn will contribute immensely in resolving social, mental, and psychological issues affecting individuals in Australia.

Art therapy is becoming popular in Australia at a very fast rate. More and more people are aware of the existence of art therapy and its use in mental and physical treatment. Due to this reason, there are many private institution that have been registered to offer art therapy services to clients. The operations of these institutions are governed by the ministry of health in Australia. The practitioner also has to be registered and certified by the government. Art therapy professional is thriving and there are a variety of institutions and individual practitioner that are role models in this profession. These role models have set the standards in the art therapy profession in both research and offering high quality services to customers. One of the largest organization which is a role model in art therapy is ANZATA.ANZATA is The professional Association for Arts Therapy in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore (Campbell, 2009). The organization is an umbrella body of the major organizations that offer art therapy services. The main purpose of the organization is to offer support and to advance arts therapy profession in Australia. ANZATA is involved in various activities that help in promotion of arts therapy in Australia. ANZATA organizes workshops, seminars, and conferences which discusses and addresses emerging art therapy issues in the country. Some of the workshops include Melbourne Art Therapy Studio, New Art Therapy Events in Canberra and Expressive Therapy Clinic. ANZATA also has various study and support groups. They play an important role in bringing together therapists from different regions to help resolve art therapy problems facing the particular areas. The support groups include; Art Therapy Peer Group, Aged Care Funding Cuts and 41 art Journals Exchange.

Types of Art Therapy

The other role models in Art therapy profession are The IKON Institute which is located in Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland. This is an institution that offers advanced diploma of in Art Therapy. IKON is the only provider of an accredited diploma in Art Therapy in Southern Australia. IKON is also the largest provider of Art Therapy Training in Australia. IKON is a role model in Art therapy profession in Australia because it has churned out highly qualified art therapists (Hughes & Owen, 2009). These professionals have contributed immensely in the development of Art therapy profession and this has helped in promoting social and mental well being of various individuals and groups in Australia. IKON has been able to train more than 1000 art therapists who have been instrumental in treating mental health patients in various facilities in Australia.

Another role model in art therapy is Phoenix Institute which is located in Sydney. It offers an advanced diploma in art therapy and has been instrumental in contributing to development of art therapy in Australia. The University of Western Sydney has also contributed significantly in research on the profession of art therapy. These researches have been crucial in providing new insights in the art therapy profession. The Art Therapy Alliance also plays a crucial role in art therapy in Australia. The organization connects art therapists from all over the world. It helps in provision of art resources and providing a forum for interaction of various art therapy organizations globally. The institute for Sensorimonitor Art Therapy also plays a very important role in the art therapy profession.

There are various types of art therapy used in Australia. One of the popular types of art therapy is the mental and psychological art therapy. There are many people facing challenges related to mental health and mental art therapy is important in treating these illnesses. Art therapy is also done to treat physical and social related problems faced by patients. The following are some of the techniques used in providing art therapy:

Collage is a technique of art therapy which uses magazine photos, digital images and some other materials taken from books and mail. The art therapists guide the clients in cutting and pasting these selected images. This method is especially used for clients who cannot make marks on paper and who do not respond well to talk therapy (Malchiodi, 2013). Collages created by the therapist prompt narratives and stories which relate to the issues facing the client. The therapist creates stories from the photos that the client cuts and uses them to trigger positive thoughts that help in treating the patient.

Facilities and Practitioners

Phototherapy is another type of art therapy which is popularly used by art therapists in Australia. Visual footprints of a person’s life are used to evoke memories that the clients positively relates with. A collection of client’s photographs is used by therapists to piece together the lifestyle of the clients. The photographs helps in building bridges such can be used for accessing, exploring and communicating the feelings and memories of the clients.

Family Sculpture is another popular type of art therapy. Clay and other types of sculpting materials are used to represents personalities and scenes that can be used to stimulate a series of thought in the mind of the client (Moon, 2017). The client is required to create sculptures of all family members or few family members. These sculptures help the therapists to understand what is going on in the mind of the client and hence the therapist can determine the steps he should take to help the client.

Digital art is the newest method of conducting art therapy. The technique uses digital art and media to communicate to the client and help the therapist understand the psychology of the client. This makes communication between the therapist and the client easier and hence helps in the clients’ recovery process. The categories of digital art include; photo imaging software, drawing software and videos.

Painting is another technique used in art therapy. Painting technique where clients are required by the therapists to make paintings that relate to important objects and people in their lives. The clients can draw paintings of their family members and objects they closely relate with. These paintings are a representation of the pattern of thinking of the client. Once the therapists understands the thoughts of the client, they are able to provide the support that the client require which may also involve talking creating better relations with family members.

There are different systems under which the identified types of art therapy are used. Each of the art therapy technique is used depending on the needs of the clients. Different clients have different illnesses that are unique to them and they seek treatment through art therapy. The systems in which the art therapy techniques are used are identified and discussed as follows;

Art therapy is applied in Inpatient psychiatric clinics. These are both private and public clinics that offer psychiatric patients medical care. These clinics operate on an inpatient system where they do not admit patient. The inpatient psychiatric clinics purely specialize in relating patients with psychological illnesses and art therapy is commonly used in these clinics in Australia.

Research on Art Therapy in Australia

Normal Outpatient clinics also use art therapy. The clinics use art therapy to treat customers with stress related problems which are yet to escalate to the point of becoming a mental illness. The outpatient clinics use art therapy to access the patients level of psychological stress and offer them advice based on the assessment (Case and Dalley, 2014). Art therapy is also used for cancer diagnosis by the outpatient clinic.

Art therapy is also used in major hospitals across the country. These includes both children`s hospitals and those for adults. In hospitals, art therapy is used to for cancer diagnosis, to treat children with psychological disorders, treating trauma in children and adults, counseling depressed patients and also for general treatment of common illnesses. Art therapy is also used in day treatment mental health programming. In this, art therapy is used to treat patients with mental illnesses and to conduct research related to the use of art therapy as a method for treating mental disorders (Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 2007).Non community organizations that are involved in health care also apply art therapy. These organizations play different roles in the health care sector in the country. Some are involved in research while others offer resources and technical support to art therapy profession.

Art therapy is popularly used in schools globally and its popularity in Australia is also increasing. Art therapy is used in schools to offer students psychological support and therapy that helps to relieve pressure associated with education. Art therapy is also used in schools to train children on how to handle problems related to depression and to help them deal with social challenges. In addition to this,it is used to offer therapy to children in special schools for children with mental disability.

In jail and prisons, art therapy is applied to treat prisoners with mental related illnesses (Edwards, n.d.). Mental illnesses are very common among people serving long prison sentences since most of them become depressed and end up being suicidal.

The other systems in which art therapy is used include in nursing, private care community health centers and in Art studios. These systems use different types of art therapy depending on the needs of the clients. The different types of art therapy produce different outcomes depending on the system in which they are being used.

Research on art therapy globally and even in Australia is very limited. This is because of the fact that most people were not aware of art therapy and its important in treating mental and physical illnesses. The profession has however become popular in recent years and there are various professionals which have conducted research on art therapy in Australia. These studies are evaluated and investigated to determine the outcomes of the research and the gaps that exist and hence can be researched on in future.

Opportunities for Growth

In Europe,art therapy developed and evolved courtesy of an artist named Hill. Hill pioneered art therapy as a professional practice through the use of art to facilitate recovery from trauma for victims of World War two (Buchalter, 2011). In the US,Kramer who was an educator and an artist developed philosophical points of view which brought about a various forms of art therapy. Research about art therapy has experienced very many challenges and problems globally. This is majorly based on the fact that art therapy is very descriptive and phenomenological and hence does not fit well into the current philosophy of positivist science and research.

Art therapy plays a very significant role in contributing to the well being of many people globally. According to Gilroy, (2011), art therapy in Australia has been used in the last few years to help kids with psychological related disorders to develop and grow almost like normal kids. Different types of art therapy are used in these schools and they include use of photography and collages in rehabilitating the kids. In his study, he found out that art therapy helped to successfully treat more than 78% of the people who join the various institutions with mental related illnesses. The art of therapy does not result to complete healing especially for illnesses which may be caused by genetic disorder. He however found out that less than 30% of special schools for children with disability have a program that includes systems of art therapy as apart of their treatment tools. This is majorly attributed to lack of awareness on art therapy.

Malchiodi, (2010) carried out a study to investigate the number of prisons that use art therapy as part of their program to offer counseling to prisoners. Many prisoners were found to have mental related illnesses which were mainly caused by the rough conditions of the prisons which lead to the prisoners getting depressed. The study indicated that only 28% of the prison facility applied some form of art therapy for treating prisoners in the facility. This number needs to be increased given the effectiveness it has in treating mental illnesses and depression.


This report discusses the meaning and use of art therapy in Australia. The objective of the paper is to identify the types of art therapy and ways in which art therapy is used to treat clients and patients with different conditions. The first section of the paper discusses the history of art therapy in Australia and how it has evolved over time. Art therapy is relatively new in Australia even though the rate of adoption of art therapy technique is very high and more and more organizations are offering treatment to clients using art therapy. The organizations that are role models in the art therapy profession include ANZATA organization, IKON and University of Western Australia. These organizations have contributed significantly to the profession through research and development of art therapy. In addition to this, the paper also discusses the systems under which art therapy is applied and some examples of these systems are hospitals and outpatient clinic. The final section of the paper is an analysis of literature review of art therapy in Australia.


Art Therapy: Journal Of The American Art Therapy Association. (2007). Art Therapy, 24(3), Pp.1-1.

Burt, H., Schaverien, J., & Lala, A. (2011). Art Therapy And Postmodernism: Creative Healing Through a Prism. London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Http://Www.123library.Org/Book_Details/?Id=30856.

Buchalter, S. I. (2011). Art Therapy And Creative Coping Techniques For Older Adults. Http://Www.123library.Org/Book_Details/?Id=58288.

Campbell, J. (2009). Art Therapy, Race, And Culture. London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Case, C. And Dalley, T. (2014). The Handbook Of Art Therapy. London [u.a.]: Routledge.

Edwards, D. G. (2014). Art Therapy. https://Public.Eblib.Com/Choice/Publicfullrecord.Aspx?p=4714171.

Gilroy, A. (2011). Art Therapy Research In Practice. Oxford: Peter Lang.

Hughes, L., & Owen, H. (2009). Good Practice In Safeguarding Children: Working Effectively In Child Protection. London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Http://Www.123library.Org/Book_Details/?Id=2601.

Magniant, R. C. P. (2014). Art Therapy With Older Adults: a Sourcebook. Springfield, Ill, Charles C. Thomas.

Malchiodi, C. (2010). The Art Therapy Sourcebook. New York [u.a.]: Mcgraw-Hill.

Malchiodi, C. A. (2013). Art Therapy And Health Care. New York, Guilford Press.

Moon, B. L. (2017). Introduction To Art Therapy: Faith In The Product.

Potash, J. S., Chan, S. M., & Kalmanowitz, D. L. (2012). Art Therapy In Asia: To The Bone Or Wrapped In Silk. London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers. https://Public.Eblib.Com/Choice/Publicfullrecord.Aspx?p=915932.

Rappaport, L. (2009). Focusing-Oriented Art Therapy: Accessing The Body's Wisdom And Creative Intelligence. London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers. https://Www.123library.Org/Book_Details/?Id=2561.

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