Distinctive traits of the profession
Psychologists, occupational therapists and art educators may, at times, have interests and employ methods which overlap with those of art therapists. However, in comparison to art therapists, these other professions typically apply a combination of art and psychology in a more circumscribed way.
Psychologists have long made use of art objects and art tasks for the particular purpose of assessing and evaluating their clients. Sometimes they may even borrow art therapy assessment tools. When working with younger clients, art (and play) are givens.
Art therapists have been specifically trained to combine the principles and practices of both the visual arts and psychology into a single, coherent, interdisciplinary approach. With their skilled knowledge of art materials, creative process, psychological theories and psychotherapeutic techniques, art therapists encourage creative expression, reflexive contemplation and the working through of personal challenges and problems. In comparison to other professionals, art therapists have a much deeper and broader understanding of the rich interplay between art and psychotherapy. They are experienced in simultaneously addressing both the psychological and artistic needs presented by various situations and populations making for a unique professional expertise.