What is Art Therapy at CASA?


I am Marie, and I work as an Art Therapist at CASA in the child and adolescent day programs. I work on a team providing mental health treatment for children and adolescents by facilitating Art Therapy groups that give voice to self expression through art making. Unlike in a school based art class, the children are not making art for grades or for the expectations of the teachers or others, but are encouraged to make art for themselves and for their healing. As an Art Therapist, I provide invitations in the session for patients to take or leave. If a child is not interested in that invitation, they are encouraged to make something else.  There is not a right or wrong answer in Art Therapy, all I ask of the children is to try to engage with art making in some way.

For example, during a fifty-minute session, adolescents were taught a breathing exercise to use when feeling anxious. This psychoeducational session incorporated a word, colour or image that enhanced the adolescent’s memory of this calming technique. The symbol was further solidified by painting a stone to remind them of the breathing practice. The adolescents took the stone home to use as tool when coping with anxiety.

Every Art Therapist works in a slightly different way, but all have graduate level training and are required to have many hours of practical experience while being supervised by a registered Art Therapist. My Art Therapy practice at CASA focuses on emotional regulation, self-confidence and expression of self. I use art materials to enhance and support psychotherapy goals.

To find out more about Art Therapy, check out http://www.canadianarttherapy.org/

Written by: Marie Muggeridge BFA, MPS-AT