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Black Ink Drops


Art therapy is an integrative mental health and human services profession that utilize visual art with elements of music, dance, and drama to facilitate self-expression and communication of clients.  Art therapy supports people of all ages and abilities and at all stages of life and foster self awareness and growth. 

The European Federation of Art Therapists (EFAT) defines Art Therapy as: "a mental health profession that also has application in social, educational and medical fields. Art therapists enlist the creative process of art making to enhance the mind/body connection, foster personal development and improve psychological, and/or affective, cognitive and relational well-being of individuals, groups and families of all ages and backgrounds. Art therapy is based on the premise that the creative process generated in artistic self-expression, when practiced by a professionally trained art therapist, fosters the growth and development of the agentic sense of self. This art-making process involves personal exploration with visual/tactile art materials (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other expressive art forms, etc.) where imagery may or may not result.".

The American Art Therapy Association (AATA) defines Art Therapy as: "a mental health 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 is not about painting a perfect picture, it doesn't require knowledge and skill in painting, and the aesthetics of the final work are not important.  Art therapists do not interpret drawings or colors by themselves but rather clients talk about the drawing prompted by the art therapist.

Art therapy is not art class or workshop (it goes f
ar beyond that) and psychologist, art curator or painter can not be an art therapists (unless educated and certified as an art therapist).  Art therapy is not just a technique (painting, making sculpture, ...), method (collage, fractal drawing, ...), or skill but rather a profession. A profession is a broader concept involving a recognized and regulated occupation with specialized knowledge and skills. Professions include various techniques, methods and skills within their scope of practice.

Art therapy is not a seminar or a course. Art therapy is an education at the university level that includes lectures with experiential work, clinical practice, supervision, exams with both theoretical and practical part, final scientific thesis and qualification expressed in minimum 120 ECTS.


Art as therapy (or therapeutic art making) is not Art therapy.  You may experience Art as therapy if, for example, you visit a museum and observe and enjoy exhibits, and this may be therapeutic. Or you may take crayons and draw how you feel, for example, how angry or happy you are. However, this is not Art therapy.  Art therapy extends beyond merely observing paintings or sculptures in museums or drawing, it differs because it involves an active and dynamic process. In Art therapy, the focus is on the shared journey and relationship between the trained professional therapist and the client. It's not solely about appreciating finished artworks but rather about engaging in a therapeutic PROCESS.  The process does not involve simply providing art tools to the client and waiting for the work to be finished in order to talk about it. Therapeutic process starts from the moment the client enters the room and utilizes artistic expression from the first brush choice to explore emotions, enhance communication, and foster personal growth.  

For instance, a person engaged in sculpting with clay cannot claim that 'clay is therapy for me’ but they may express that 'making clay is therapeutic for me,' acknowledging the personal, non-clinical nature of the experience. For therapy to occur, fundamental prerequisites include a qualified therapist, a client, the therapeutic process, a well-defined therapeutic approach, ethical standards, etc.


Art therapy works for people of all ages and abilities and at all stages of life to reach their full potential.


For centuries, humans have used artistic expression to communicate stories, express ideas and document significant events. The formal practice of art therapy has its origins in the mid 20th century in Europe. British artist Adrian Hill paint and draw with patients who suffered from tuberculosis in 1942, achieving positive therapeutic results through his artistic endeavors.

Successful practices in art therapy soon spread to mental hospitals through the work of Edward Adamson, who observed and further studied the connection between artistic expression and emotions in the mid 20th century. The British Association of Art Therapists was founded in 1964.

The American Art Therapy Association was established in 1969. The pioneer of art therapy was psychologist, educator, and artist Margaret Naumburg, who was the first to use art therapy and believed it could be applied in both diagnosis and therapy. She connected art with expressing the unconscious through the method of free association. Austrian painter Kramer, who lived and worked in New York, was also a pioneer of American art therapy, following Freud's psychoanalytic theory, and worked with children and adolescents. Kramer became a key figure in laying the groundwork for art therapy education at the university level.

The theoretical foundation is psychodynamic, based on phenomena such as transfer, transitional object,
integration, and play.  Freud's concept of sublimation posits that the redirection of instinctual drives into socially acceptable outlets, such as art. He believed that the symbolism found in both art and dreams was similar and provided insights into the unconscious mind. Jung's influential works, delve into the symbolic language of the unconscious, including dreams, myths, and artistic expression. His theories laid the groundwork for the recognition of creative processes as valuable tools for personal growth and psychological healing.  Finally,  Art therapy and play therapy share similarities as both fall under expressive therapies and emphasize the importance of creating a safe and accepting therapeutic environment where a person can express themselves through play.

Today, the practice of art therapy has gained ground as a solid psychotherapy practice and approach within education by practitioners all over the world. The Croatian Art Therapy Association (HART) was founded in 2018 and became a regional leading art therapy membership organization. 


It’s been widely studied and observed how art therapy is effective. New forms of research and practice are being developed that blend art therapy and other methods of psychotherapy. These innovations are being researched, documented and shared across the community of practice worldwide. 


Education in art therapy continues to evolve within the finest higher education institutions worldwide. The highest standards have been set for the profession of art therapy, primarily within the Anglo-Saxon system of education and practice, which are gradually being transferred and adopted in other parts of the world. These standards include lectures in educational institutions, practical experience in groups, clinical practice, supervision, and ongoing professional development.

What does the final product of art therapy look like? In art therapy, the focus is primarily on the process of work and what happens during that journey of discovery, so emphasis is not placed on final products like paintings or sculptures. Sometimes, the final product is cherished as a memory, while other times, it transforms or even gets destroyed. For those interested in how it can look, here are a few pictures of final works by clients.


Art terapija je integrativna i humanistički orijntirana struka mentalnog zdravlja, koja koristi vizualnu umjetnost s elementima glazbe, plesa i drame kako bi olakšala izražavanje i komunikaciju klijenta. Art terapija podržava ljude svih dobnih skupina i mogućnosti, kako  bi podigli razinu samosvijesti i osobnog rasta.

Europska federacija art terapeuta (EFAT) definira art terapiju kao "struku mentalnog zdravlja koja ima primjenu u socijalnim, obrazovnim i medicinskim područjima. Art terapeuti koriste kreativni proces umjetničkog stvaranja kako bi poboljšali povezanost uma i tijela, poticali osobni razvoj te unaprijedili psihičko, i/ili afektivno, kognitivno i relacijsko blagostanje pojedinaca svih dobnih skupina i podrijetla,  grupa i obitelji.  O art terapiji možemo govoriti kada  stručno obučen art terapeut provodi terapijski proces s klijentom te mu omogućava kreativno izražavanje s ciljem poticanja osobnog rasta i razvoja.  Ovaj proces umjetničkog stvaranja uključuje osobni proces istraživanja pomoću vizualnih/taktilnih umjetničkih materijala te uz tehnike crtanja, slikanja, kiparsta i drugih izražajnih tehnika, tijekom kojeg može, ali i ne mora, gotov likovni rad. 

Američko udruženje art terapeuta (AATA) definira Art terapiju kao: "struku mentalnog zdravlja koja obogaćuje živote pojedinaca, obitelji i zajednica kroz aktivno stvaranje umjetnosti, kreativni proces, primijenjenu psihološku teoriju i ljudsko iskustvo unutar psihoterapeutske veze.


Art terapija nije slikanje "savršene slike“ već je fokus art terapije je na kreativnom procesu, a  estetska komponenta konačnog rada nije važna. U skladu s tim se od klijenta ne očekuje nikakvo znanje, vještina ili talent za likovno izražavanje.

Art terapija nije umjetnički tečaj ili umjetnička radionica.  Psiholog, kustos umjetnosti ili slikar ne mogu biti art terapeuti ukoliko nisu obrazovani i certificirani kao art terapeuti. Art terapija je struka vezana za mentalno zdravlje, a ne samo likovna tehnika (slikanje, izrada skulptura, kolaž...) ili metoda (crtanje fraktala, ...). Struka je širi pojam koji obuhvaća prepoznato i regulirano zanimanje koje uključuje različite tehnike, metode i vještine unutar svog područja prakse.
Art terapija nije seminar ili tečaj već visokoškolsko obrazovanje koje uključuje predavanja s iskustvenim radom, kliničkom praksom, supervizijom, ispitmia s teorijskim i praktičnim dijelom, završnim znanstvenim radom i kvalifikacijom izraženom.  Poslijediplomska edukacija za art terapeuta pri Sveučilištu u Hrvatskoj je iskazana u vrijendosti od 120 ECTS a što odgovara razini 7.2 Hrvatskog kvalifikacijskog okvira.  


Možete doživjeti "umjetnost kao terapiju" ako na primjer posjetite muzej i promatrate izloške - to može na vas djelovati terapeutski.  Možete uzeti bojice i nacrtati kako se osjećate, na primjer, koliko ste ljuti ili sretni. Međutim, sve to nije art terapija. Art terapija je puno više od samog promatranja slika ili skulptura u muzejima ili crtanja.  Art terapija uključuje aktivan i dinamičan proces u kojem zajedno sudjeluju obučeni art terapeut i klijent, a koji počinje od trenutka kada klijent ulazi u prostoriju.
Nadalje, osoba koja se bavi oblikovanjem gline ne može tvrditi da je 'glina terapija za nju', ali može izraziti da joj 'oblikovanje gline može imati terapijsko djelovanje', priznajući osobno, nekliničko iskustvo.  Za terapiju su nužni kvalificirani art terapeut, klijent, terapijski proces te jasno definirani terapijski pristup, etički standardi, itd.


Art terapija pomaže ljudima svih dobnih skupina i mogućnosti te u svim razdobljima života, da postignu svoj puni potencijal. 


Tijekom stoljeća ljudi su koristili umjetnički izraz kako bi podijelili priče, izrazili ideje i dokumentirali značajne događaje. Službena praksa art terapije razvija se sredinom 20. stoljeća u Europi. Britanski umjetnik Adrian Hill 1942. godine započeo je slikati i crtati s pacijentima oboljelim od tuberkuloze, te je postizao pozitivne terapijske rezulate.  Uspješne terapijske prakse ubrzo su se proširile i na psihijatrijske ustanove.  Britnaski umjetnik Edward Adamson je promatrao i dalje proučavao povezanost umjetničkog izraza s emocijama. Britansko udruženje art terapeuta osnovano je 1964. godine.
Američko udruženje art terapeuta osnovano je 1969. godine.  Utjecajna praktičark art terapije je bila psihologinja, pedagoginja i umjetnica Margaret Naumburg koja je prva korisitla art terapiju te smatrala kako se može primjenjivati i u dijagnostici i u terapiji.   Povezala je umjetnost s izražavanjem nesvjesnog putem metode slobodnih asocijacija.  Austrijska slikarica Kramer, koja je živjela i radila u New Yorku, također je pionir američke art terapije, sljedbenica Freudove psihoanalitičke teorije, te je radila s djecom i adolescentima.   Kramer je postala važna figura u postavljanju temelja za obrazovanje iz područja art terapije pri sveučilištu. 

Teorijska osnova art terapije je psihodinamička, temelji se na fenomenima poput transfera, prijelaznog objekta, integracije i igre. Freudova koncepcija sublimacije je predpostavila preusmjeravanje instinktivnih nagona u društveno prihvatljive izlaze, poput umjetnosti. Vjerovao je da su simbolika pronađena u umjetnosti i snovima slične te pružaju uvid u nesvjesni um. Jungovi utjecajni radovi istražuju simbolički jezik nesvjesnog, uključujući snove, mitove i umjetnički izraz. Jungove teorije postavile su temelje za prepoznavanje kreativnih procesa kao vrijednih alata za osobni razvoj i psihološko iscjeljenje. Konačno, art terapija i terapija igrom dijele sličnosti jer oboje spadaju u ekspresivne terapije i naglašavaju važnost stvaranja sigurnog i prihvaćajućeg terapijskog okruženja u kojem se osoba može izraziti kroz igru.


Praktičari diljem svijeta prihvatili su art terapiju kao priznatu psihoterapijsku praksu i pristup sa uspostavljenim obrazovnim sustavom za art terapeute.  Hrvatska udruga za art terapiju (HART) osnovana je 2018. godine te je postala regionalna vodeća udruga za art terapiju.  


Kroz niz znanstvenih istraživanja je utvrđena je učinkovitost art terapije.  Razvijaju se nove oblici istraživanja i prakse koje spajaju art terapiju s drugim metodama psihoterapije. Ove inovacije proučavaju se, dokumentiraju i dijele unutar zajednice praktičara diljem svijeta. 

Obrazovanje iz art terapije nastavlja se razvijati unutar najboljih visokoškolskih institucija na svijetu.  Postavljeni su najviši standardi za struku art terapije, ponajprije u anglosaksonskom sistemu obrazovanja i rada, a koji se postupno prenose i usvajaju u drugim dijelovima svijeta.   Navedeni standardi uključuju predavanja u obrazovnim institucijama, praktično iskustvo u grupi, kliničku praksu, superviziju te kontinuirano usavršavanje u profesiji.

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