Network for Good Art Supplies!


Network for Good Art Supplies!

Okay.  This isn’t an attempt to set up a swap meet, although that’s not a bad idea.  Art therapists and non-art therapists who use artmaking in therapy know that there’s rarely enough money in the budget for much-needed art supplies.  And when there is money, people are often tempted to squander it on inexpensive materials so as to get “more”.  Inexpensive materials are generally filler/binder with a little pigment added, which means they don’t last long and don’t make much of a mark.  In short, they’re a bad deal.  It’s more beneficial for your clients if you splurge on higher quality materials with a better pigment to filler/binder ratio.  But how can this splurging occur within the confines of a limited budget?


If you’re affiliated with a non-profit, Network for Good might be the solution!  This organization offers the possibility of accepting online donations through your non-profit’s website, in addition to other useful fundraising services.  These donations can be used exclusively to fund your dream art supply fortress!  Or at least to purchase quality materials for your clients.  As an ethical point, I feel the need to remind people that only non-profits using the services of actual art therapists should solicit contributions in support of an “art therapy program”.  In the absence of a trained art therapist, a non-profit can’t offer an art therapy program, just as it can’t offer a psychology program without a psychologist.  Art therapy is a profession, not an activity or a modality.


I bring this up because an Austin-area children’s non-profit makes public requests for donations to its “art therapy program”, which apparently doesn’t involve any art therapists.  I tried to engage the organization’s powers-that-be in a collaborative manner for an art action event to draw attention to National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, but to no avail; my communications were only responded to once or twice, and then nothing.  Perhaps they didn’t want their “art therapy program” to meet an art therapist?  I wonder if the clinicians there know they could be putting their clients and their credentials on the line by claiming to offer a service in which they may lack appropriate education and training.


If your non-profit doesn’t include the services of an art therapist and thus doesn’t have an art therapy program, you can still solicit donations for the purchase of art supplies that will be used by your clients.  There’s nothing deceptive about that.  Given the recent research findings about using subcortical interventions to help dysregulated clients regulate themselves (see the works of Bessel van der Kolk and Allan Schore, for example), art materials may be very needed to help your clients achieve relaxation, learn a positive leisure activity, develop skills and confidence, and generate further discussion in therapy sessions.  I would advise non-art therapists to stick with art supplies that best support their skill set, which targets the cognitive management of affectively charged material.  Typically speaking, the easier an art supply is to clean up and the less “hands in” it is, the greater the likelihood that a non-art therapist will be able to incorporate it successfully into her or his sessions without causing regression or retraumatization.  Examples of such art supplies are crayons, oil pastels, water-based markers, pencils, colored pencils, collage materials, beads, mosaic tiles, wood shapes, and tissue paper.


And if you aren’t affiliated with a non-profit but are looking for a way to obtain quality art supplies for use by your clients, contact me about setting up a swap meet!  It’s really not such a bad idea…


With appreciation for the important work you do,

Megan July 2011

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.