Creative Arts Therapies

“Creative Arts Therapists are human service professionals who use arts modalities and creative processes for the purpose of ameliorating disability and illness and optimizing health and wellness. Treatment outcomes include, for example, improving communication and expression, and increasing physical, emotional, cognitive and/or social functioning. There are more than 15,000 Creative Arts Therapists practicing in the United States and around the world. Creative Arts Therapy organizations have been active in this country for over 50 years.” – National Coalition of Creative Arts Therapies

The creative arts therapy field encompasses music, art, dance/movement, drama, play, and poetry therapy. Therapists in these fields are trained deeply in their modality, as well as in a specialized area of need. For example, creative arts therapists could work at:

• adult day treatment centers
• community mental health centers
• community residences and halfway houses
• correctional and forensic facilities
• disaster relief centers
• drug and alcohol programs
• early intervention programs
• general hospitals
• home health agencies
• hospices
• neonatal nurseries
• nursing homes
• outpatient clinics
• psychiatric units and hospitals
• rehabilitative facilities
• senior centers
• schools
• wellness centers

Each discipline within the creative arts therapy field has its own set of ethical codes, educational requirements, and professional standards. Find more information about each specific discipline on their association’s website.

American Art Therapy Association

American Music Therapy Association

American Dance Therapy Association

North American Drama Therapy Association

The Association for Play Therapy 

The National Association for Poetry Therapy 

Expressive Arts Therapy

“Expressive arts therapies are defined as the use of art, music, drama, dance/movement, poetry/creative writing, bibliotherapy, play, and sandplay within the context of psychotherapy, counseling, rehabilitation, or medicine. Additionally, expressive therapies are sometimes referred to as “integrative” when various arts are purposively used in combination in treatment.” -Cathy Malchiodi

International Expressive Arts Therapy Association

The creative arts therapies use a more individualized, or specialized, approach, within one creative modality for therapeutic purposes. The expressive arts therapies use an integrative or multi-modal approach, blending several modalities into the therapeutic work.

Check out these articles to get a better idea of the differences and similarities between the two:

Creative Arts Therapy and Expressive Arts Therapy 

FAQ’s- Appalachian State University