Catherine M Harris, MA, ATR-BC
Art Therapy Services

Artwork by Catherine Harris

"You’re not going to have any paper left when I get done." - Former Art Therapy Client

Catherine Harris, Art Therapist

"Simply put, art therapists are counselors who use art as a tool to heal. We encourage people to express and understand their emotions through their own artistic expression and creative process."

About Art Therapy

I often receive interesting reactions when I tell people I am an art therapist. The responses range from quizzical looks and stunned expressions to statements like, "That's so cool! . . . What exactly is that?" Simply put, art therapists are counselors who use art as a tool to heal. We encourage people to express and understand their emotions through their own artistic expression and creative process.

Art Therapy FAQS

What is art therapy?
What are the benefits of art therapy?
Do I have to be an artist or have prior experience with art to work with an art therapist?
Is art therapy only for children?
What kind of training do art therapists need to have?
Where can I find more information about art therapy?


What is art therapy?

"Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief 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."
- Definition provided by the American Art Therapy Association


What are the benefits of art therapy?

The benefits of art therapy are numerous and vary depending upon the client population. Yet, the following advantages can be seen in almost any situation where creativity takes place. On a physical level, research shows that the very act of engaging in an artistic activity, such as painting or drawing, can lower blood pressure and decrease heart rate, a physical effect that can relax the body and calm the mind.

On a more emotional level, creating artwork can serve as an alternate form of expression and communication when words fail. When faced with a difficult or stressful situation, it can often be hard to find the right words to express how we feel. Yet, when creating artwork, no words are needed.

In addition, creating art can provide mental stimulation through the acquisition of new artistic skills. It can also improve self-esteem through the completion of finished pieces. Creating artwork has even been found to stimulate the part of the brain connected to memory, thus proving to be a powerful visual aid in the process of reminiscence.


Do I have to be an artist or have prior experience with art to work with an art therapist?

Not at all. Art therapy can be of service to anyone. Art made in art therapy sessions is created more for the artist's personal use of expression and reflection than for public display. In many cases, the main benefits of art therapy come from the physical act and the mental process of creating artwork, not necessarily the finished product.


Is art therapy only for children?

Our current culture tends to view art making as an activity best left to professionals or children. However, any individual, regardless of their age, can benefit from the practice of creating artwork. Recent studies conducted by Dr. Gene Cohen and the Center on Aging, Health & Humanities at the GW Med Center are finding that most individuals do not even begin to reach their full potential for creativity until the later stages of life. In my own practice, I have worked with clients from the ages of 4 to 94.


What kind of training do art therapists have?

According to the American Art Therapy Association:

"Art therapists are masters level professionals who hold a degree in art therapy or a related field. Educational requirements include: theories of art therapy, counseling, and psychotherapy; ethics and standards of practice; assessment and evaluation; individual, group, and family techniques; human and creative development; multicultural issues; research methods; and practicum experiences in clinical, community, and/or other settings. Art therapists are skilled in the application of a variety of art modalities (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other media) for assessment and treatment."


Where can I find more information about art therapy?

For more information on art therapy services or to schedule a free trial session, please contact Catherine by email at: catherine@catherinemharris.com.

Catherine M Harris, MA, ATR-BC
Art Therapy Services
Nashville, TN
www.catherinemharris.com