Art therapy has been around since the 1900s, but continuous developments in the field allowed this branch of therapy to gain popularity as a tool for improving mental health. Today, therapists can extend the reach of their services while patients conveniently receive necessary art therapy interventions at home with the help of digital technologies. The American Art Therapy Association found in a May 2020 survey that around 53% of art therapists are physically working in places such as psychiatric hospitals or outpatient mental health clinics. However, rapid digitization has led 70% of art therapists to work from home and transition to teletherapy via video platforms or telephone.
What is Art Therapy?
Art therapy is a type of therapeutic practice that combines art and psychology to support individuals dealing with trauma, stress, and psychological disorders. Moreover, art therapy is used to help young children develop social skills and boost self-confidence. Experts believe that by allowing individuals to express their emotions through art, they can find better ways to express themselves and foster personal mental wellness. What makes art therapy different from art classes is that the former focuses on letting individuals express their inner experiences regardless of their art techniques.
With art therapy, parents can expect their children to engage in artistic endeavors such as coloring, doodling and scribbling, painting, photography, sculpting, and more. At The Crayon Initiative we help art therapies become accessible to young children in hospitals by providing them with the tools necessary to make art. It will allow young patients to redirect their attention from their condition to something they know best: playing and having fun. Art therapy is also not limited to coloring, since expressive arts therapy can include music therapy, dance movement therapy, and even drama therapy.
Is Remote Art Therapy Effective?
There is extensive literature supporting the claim that art therapy provides a non-invasive therapeutic space for young children to overcome and process their fears, trauma, and difficulties– and that it is successful and effective. It can also become an alternative form of expression for children since it allows them to describe their feelings or past experiences through a non-verbal means of communication.
Art therapy treatments are also conducted under the guidance of an experienced and licensed art therapist. Even if therapists administer their care online, they are still subject to strict educational and licensing requirements under The American Counseling Association (ACA) and additional security standards from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Despite the virtual setup, therapists will still engage in "talk therapy" with patients to help them relieve emotional stress and ease their mental health concerns. Moreover, the American Psychological Association (APA) claims online therapies are as effective as in-person sessions.
Lastly, similar to most therapies, art therapy is tailor-fit to the person receiving the treatment. In a study about art therapy for children and adolescents, researchers found that when appropriate means and forms of expression and therapist behavior are applied to individual needs and circumstances, it will produce positive and significant psychosocial outcomes. Studies showed that remote art therapy brings new opportunities for therapists since some patients show greater confidence and self-expression during online sessions. For example, a boy on the autism spectrum would maintain more eye contact and express more self-confidence and creativity in remote music therapy compared to face-to-face music therapy. This example shows how remote music therapy is more suitable for both the patient and therapist in making their therapy session productive.
Various studies corroborate the effectiveness of art therapy in improving children's mental well-being. Remote art therapy will allow even more children to access and receive necessary treatments without leaving the comfort of their homes. It can help therapists and patients have meaningful and effective therapy sessions.