A simple way to understand art therapy is that it is a professional field that combines art and psychotherapy in order to support one’s mental wellness and overall well-being. According to the American Art Therapy Association, “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 involves creative methods of expression through visual art media (such as drawing, painting, clay and craft) and is a distinct discipline from other creative arts therapy professions such as music therapy, drama therapy, dance/movement therapy and expressive arts therapy. Often art therapists are not trained to specialize in these disciplines.
Art therapy requires a professional art therapist, who has received accredited training (usually a master’s degree) and been supervised by experienced art therapists/mental health practitioners, to facilitate and provide effective support to both “personal and relational treatment goals as well as community concerns”, according to the American Art Therapy Association. In countries where art therapy is recognized as a profession, artists, psychologists and other mental health professionals who are not specialized in art therapy are not qualified to provide this service.
The American Art Therapy Association identifies Art Therapy as “used to improve cognitive and sensorimotor 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.”
Not everyone has to work with an art therapist in order to receive and experience the therapeutic qualities of art and art-making. At TIA, we have a group of wellness staff trained by Linh Nguyen, a local professional art therapist, to become art workshop facilitators to help clients explore and express themselves through art. The training follows the discipline of ‘Art as Therapy’ in which we honor the unique expression and creativity of every individual through their art making process. Activities are designed to nourish and nurture every client’s inner artist and deepen the connection with their inner world.
Please kindly note that our art workshops cannot replace or substitute for art therapy sessions or professional mental health support.
“Do I need to be good at art?” seems to be one of the common questions and concerns among people who are new to art as therapy disciplines. The answer is no. Our workshops are for everyone who needs a safe space to express themselves through art, therefore, do not require any artistic experiences, skills or talents. Our wish is to provide clients one more ‘language’ to express and one more accessible tool to explore themselves. The emphasis is not on the aesthetic quality of the final product but the process of art making and meaning making. Clients are also invited to share their thoughts and feelings at the end of their art making in a safe circle to allow the experience of feeling seen and heard. Our art workshop facilitators understand the ultimate importance of confidentiality, genuine curiosity and provision of warm non-judgmental regards.
Nguyen Huong Linh received the prestigious Fulbright scholarship in 2017 and graduated from the Master’s program in Art Therapy at School of Visual Arts (New York, USA) in May 2020.
At SVA, she received specialized training in trauma and completed 960 hours of internship under supervision in Art Therapy. After graduation, she took intensive courses on PTSD treatment, mindful self-compassion and somatic embodiment in building trauma resilience.
Linh believes that psychological obstacles are not “impairments” or “flaws” but an invitation for an individual to return to their true self. She believes in the completeness and wholeness of every client who comes to her. With support from a professionally trained therapist, each individual can awaken their inner healer and learn to make choices in life that are true to their values, needs and purposes.
Linh currently resides in Hoi An and works in both Hoi An and Da Nang City. Half of her clients are from other parts of the country and doing teletherapy.