5 Great Books for Art Therapists

By nature, art is explorative, curious, developmental, and limitless. Art therapy harnesses the intrinsic power of art and unlocks human expression. Art therapy provides an alternative means of communication for people who are unable to speak or find their voice. Art therapy can improve physical and psychological well-being, reduce stress, and can address a variety of mental health concerns, according to the American Art Therapy Association. The following are five great books that are helpful for current and future art therapists.

1. The Art Therapy Sourcebook, by Cathy Malchiodi


Living up to its title, The Art Therapy Sourcebook holds a wealth of information on every aspect of art therapy. It contains a detailed overview of art therapy and its applications, which makes it friendly and accessible to beginners. This book serves as a guide for a reader seeking relief through art therapy as well as practitioners who hope to use the skills it contains to help others. The Art Therapy Sourcebook contains valuable information on creating an environment conducive to creativity as well as how to interpret art.

2. Art is a Way of Knowing, by Pat Allen


Art is a Way of Knowing explores art as a path to self-discovery and enlightenment. Allen was a faculty member of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Art Therapy Program. Her writing provides a hands-on, detailed, experiential account of art therapy, its uses, and its benefits. She provides a breakdown of materials as well as how to start a sculpture or drawing. In addition to teaching about art therapy, Allen provides biographical information about her own life and about how art therapy transformed her.

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3. Child Art Therapy, by Judith Rubin


Child Art Therapy is frequently revered as the go-to book for techniques and applications of art therapy for children. Although it was written in 1978, this book is frequently utilized in classrooms and as a reference for counselors, social workers, and art therapists. This book contains information on how to encourage growth, how to set goals, and how to measure progress in art therapy with children. It also explores working with differently abled children and with specific needs and presenting concerns. This book also contains broader explanations of art therapy and why art therapy works well with children.

4. Trust the Process: An Artist’s Guide to Letting Go, by Shaun McNiff


In this book, McNiff discusses the creative process and the creative spirit that each human possessed. McNiff explores how this spirit and process can be harnessed to discover creative solutions to life’s various problems. In An Artist’s Guide to Letting Go, readers can learn how to push their self-imposed limits and conquer internal resistance and fear. Trust the Process also explores development and progression as they occur in art therapy.

5. Art Therapy Techniques and Applications, by Susan Buchalter


This final great book that we recommend for art therapy contains numerous exercises and applications of art therapy that can be used in session or in day-to-day life. Art Therapy Techniques and Applications walks the reader through warm up activities, exercises for various presentations, and even using technology that can be used in art therapy. The text also discusses setting therapeutic goals and how to measure progress.

Related Resource: How Do You Become a Music Therapist?

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These five great books for art therapists can help guide individuals on their journey to becoming art therapists. They can be utilized in pure art therapy, or blended into a variety of other therapeutic practices.