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The American Art Therapy Association (AATA) defines art therapy as an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.
Although human beings have used art as a mode of expression since the dawn of time, art therapy was not recognized as a distinct profession until the 1940s. Psychiatrists began to become interested in the artwork created by patients with mental illness. At the same time, educators were also paying attention to children’s artwork as it reflected their developmental, emotional, and cognitive growth. Within a few decades, hospitals and rehabilitation centers were incorporating art therapy with their traditional psychotherapy programs.