Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies

371 Varner Hall
Varner Hall Room 217
Rochester, MI 48309-4485
(location map)
(248) 370-2154

Dr. Joe Shively
Interim Director, BALS Program
Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

Art Therapy

Studio Art + Psychology

Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making, within a professional relationship, to improve and enhance the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages.

One of the central assumptions of art therapy is that people can increase awareness of self and others as well as cope with symptoms, stress, and traumatic experiences through creating art and reflecting on the art products and processes.

Research in the field confirms that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.


Art therapists are master’s level professionals, trained in both art and therapy, working in a variety of settings. They are knowledgeable about human development, psychological theories, clinical practice, spiritual, multicultural and artistic traditions, and the healing potential of art. They use this knowledge for treatment, assessment and research, and provide consultations to allied professionals. They work with clients of all ages who have experienced illness, trauma, or challenges in living. They also work with people who seek this type of therapy for personal development. Art therapists provide these services individually and as part of clinical teams, in settings that include mental health, rehabilitation, medical and forensic institutions; community outreach programs; wellness centers; schools; nursing homes; corporate structures; open studios and independent practices.

The information about art therapy described above was obtained from the following websites. People interested in pursuing a career as an art therapist or wanting to just learn more about the practice will find a wealth of information and resources at these sites: American Art Therapy AssociationBritish Association of Art Therapists and Art Therapy Credentials Board.