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Art Therapy In the Schools

What is the difference between an art therapist and an art teacher?

An art teacher introduces children to art media, art techniques, aesthetics, and the history of art.

An art therapist provides children with a vehicle for self-expression, communication, and growth. Art therapy is a process, focused on the child’s experience during art-making and less on the finished product. The child’s associations to the artwork are relevant to the therapy.

Art therapists in the schools are trained in both art and psychology, which prepares them to provide services to all students, regardless of age,cultural background or developmental needs.

Art Therapy qualifies, under PL 92-142 (now IDEA), as a professional service for all children in special education, and can be requested by the child’s parent or guardian. The vehicle for this service is the Individualized Education Program (IEP). Art Therapy may be beneficial in addressing all seven areas of performance enumerated in the IEP:

1. Academic/Cognitive
2. Communicative Status
3. Motor and Perceptual Skills
4. Prevocational/Vocational Skills
5. Self-Help Skills
6. Social/Emotional Status

Art therapy has been under-represented in the IEP, however, art therapists are trained to work in school settings with all grade levels, age groups and populations. If you would like to recieve services from a professional art therapist, please contact the Maryland Art Therapy Association. 
In a school setting, art therapists can work with students who have special needs due to the following:
Developmental Disorders
Eating Disorders
Substance Abuse
Self Injury
Family Changes / Conflicts
Domestic Violence
Social Anxiety
School Phobia
Trauma and Loss
Physical limits
Neurological limits
Medical iIlness