Modern Developments of Art Therapy

Art Therapy Today

The progression of art therapy was a long and sometimes slow-moving process.  In 1973, Mary Lee Hodnett wrote an article about the potential of art therapy as a profession.  According to Hodnett (1973) art therapy at the time still lacked many characteristics of a true profession and the key to achieving professionalism was research. Since that time, art and psychology have intermingled to create a successful profession.


Today art therapy is a popular and growing field of treatment.  Many people believe art therapy is so successful because it enables a person to externalize their feelings without using their words (Hustson, 2007).  Using art as therapy has gained considerable respect from professionals in many different therapeutic settings.  Art therapy is very popular when treating children who have been abused and when treating veterans.  Additionally, there are now art therapy programs to help grieving people who have recently suffered the loss of a loved one or another tragedy.  One such program is the Rita Project (Hutson, 2007).

The Rita Project

The Rita Project was started in 2001 by Kimberly Ann Strouse after she lost her sister to suicide.  According to Strouse, she found art to be an extremely helpful tool for grieving because it helps those who have trouble putting their feelings into words (Hustson, 2007).  The Project has also helped at risk teens who need extra support (Serina, 2012).



Technological Advances in Art Therapy

Art Therapy is a popular and effective treatment for many disorders.  There is also much research that has been done in order to enhance the effectiveness of art therapy through improvements in techniques.  There is a possibility that as technology becomes more and more important to society art therapists will need to integrate technology with their therapeutic approaches (Orr, 2006).  However, there is much debate about the effects that advances in technology may have on the treatment process.  One art therapist, Brian Austin, discusses the debate between choosing to use or not to use technology in art therapy.  According to Austin (2009) art therapists are already experiencing emotional and psychological issues that are the result of technology in younger clients.  Austin does maintain that, if used correctly, technological advances could positively influence art therapy.  In the future, for example, art therapy may be more successful if humans can integrate images from a computer screen with their minds (Austin, 2009).  Such developments may be many years away.  In the mean time, the debate about the importance of technology in art therapy continues.



Austin, B. (2009).  Renewing the Debate: Digital Technology in Art Therapy and the Creative Process.  Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 26 (2), 83-85.

Hutson, M. (2007, May 1).  Art Therapy: The Healing Arts.  Psychology Today.  Retrieved from

Orr, P. (2006).  Technology Training for Future Art Therapists: Is There a Need? Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 23(4), 191-196.


By: Shayna Moreland


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