Art Therapy in the Schools: It’s Elementary (and Middle and High)!


Art Therapy in the Schools: It’s Elementary (and Middle and High)!

It’s April…and since I work in the world of education, I thought I’d do a “hats off” to the increasing recognition of art therapy with the K-12 population now that the biggest month of state-mandated achievement testing is here.  Can anyone say “performance anxiety”?


Fortunately, school administrators nationwide are becoming aware of how a school-based art therapy program can help students re-regulate a case of the nerves that adversely affects their ability to function effectively in the classroom setting.  Dr. Edgar Hatrick, President of the American Association of School Administrators, was a keynote speaker at the American Art Therapy Association’s 2011 annual conference.  He underscored art therapy’s positive influence on student self-esteem, learning, and interpersonal/social skills.  And given what the field of clinical neuroscience has been revealing about brain development, it’s a no-brainer that experiential interventions are going to trump verbal processing when it comes to meeting the needs of children and adolescents.


Art therapy’s growing role in America’s schools was confirmed by my recent phone conversation with the director of product marketing and design at a software company that produces an online intervention scheduling, workload analysis, and record keeping system for special education direct service providers working in a K-12 setting.  The company’s product is geared toward the needs of specific groups of school-based professionals such as speech-language pathologists and social workers, and there has been an influx of requests to incorporate the needs of art therapists into its platform.  As a result, this company is strongly considering adding a category for art therapists and will probably reach a conclusion about this over the summer.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed!


In the meantime, the American Association of School Administrators offers a resource for districts that are considering the inclusion of art therapy in their overall program of student services.  It’s also pretty handy for individuals who want to have conversations with school administrators about adding art therapy to the K-12 mix.  This toolkit was put together by the American Art Therapy Association and features information about implementation resources, outcomes and applications, and model school-based art therapy programs.  If you click through the model program in Texas, you’ll find more writing by a familiar author…and perhaps you’ll understand why I’m hoping a software company can help with intervention scheduling, workload analysis, and record keeping!


With appreciation for the important work you do,

Megan April 2012

About the Image on This Page

This is a thumbnail of Public Domain Abstract Art, posted to The Public Domain website by Mitch Featherston in 2012.  Click here for more information.