Creative Interventions within Therapy


Art can be a valuable tool in therapy with a variety of populations. The use of creativity can aid clients in accomplishing goals, self-expression, and processing a long with many other benefits. Many find the creative process to be therapeutic without any intention of conducting therapy or for therapeutic use. However, without proper training utilizing art as a therapeutic intervention can be unethical. How can a non-art therapist utilize art with clients in a safe and ethical manner? In this professional development workshop we will be defining the difference between art therapy and using creative techniques within a therapy session.  This fine line between the two often creates challenges on knowing when it is ethical and when it is not ethical to use art with clients. We will identify the line and outline when it is best to refer clients to an art therapist. This workshop will examine how art can be safely and effectively utilized in a therapeutic setting. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in two different art tools as well as understanding how to utilize them within their own scope of practice. 


Art therapy is defined by the American Art Therapy Association 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” (American Art Therapy Association, 2017).  Art therapists are specifically trained in utilizing materials, art interventions, and examining the creative process and resulting product. The board outlines specific ethical laws and standards. For this reason, non art therapist need to be mindful of bringing creative interventions into sessions in a way that is ethical to their profession. Art making within a therapeutic session without training can results in possible harm to the client.  However, art making can provide benefits and opportunities as long as ethical boundaries are maintained. 


Katie Prodanovich is a board certified art therapist and a licensed professional clinical counselor with over six years of experience working with adults with dual diagnosis with developmental disabilities and a variety mental health diagnoses. She is currently the program manager and inclusion specialist at Able ARTS Work, a non-profit therapeutic day program that utilizes art and music therapy with adults who have developmental disabilities. Katie has presented her research at the American Art Therapy Annual Conference on utilizing art with adults who have developmental disabilities as well as conducted several professional development trainings. 

Able ARTS Work is a CAMFT-approved Continuing Education Provider

Provider Number: 1000110

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 Course Details
Educational Goals:

            Following the completion of this course, participants will have greater knowledge and understanding on what art therapy is and the ethical standards of using art within therapy sessions. With this understanding they will be better equipped to identify what creative intervention are safe and ethical to utilize when they are not a trained art therapist. Being more aware will assist therapist in implementing art making in therapeutic session that are beneficial without causing harm to the client. Engagement in a creative process will assist participants in understanding what the creative process can offer clients and how it can aid in building rapport, supporting growth, and improving communication. 



  1. Participants will be able to distinguish between art therapy and creative interventions.

  2. Participants be able to identify two ethical boundaries that pertain to scope of practice.

  3.  Participants will be able to identify at least three benefits of utilizing art as a creative tool. 

  4. Participants will be able to explain what situations would require referral to a creative therapist.

  5. Participants will be able to demonstrate the use of two creative art tools that can be used with clients.

  6. Participants will be able to identify at least three art materials that can be utilized in art making during a session. 


Outline With Main Points for Each Topic:
  1. Art Therapy

    1. “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” (American Art Therapy Association, 2017).  

    2. Board certification and formal training required to practice art therapy

    3. Follow own ethical laws that are outlined by the American Art Therapy Association

  2. Art Therapy training

    1. Specialized training on how to use art interventions, assessment tools, art materials, and analyzing of art process and images. 

    2. Utilizing art with a variety of populations and in various treatment settings. 

  3. Creative process

    1. Can be therapeutic in and of its self.

    2. Non-art therapists need to be mindful of the power of the creative process and how it impacts clients.

    3. Is just as important as the art that is being produced in session. 

    4. The creative process can trigger trauma and other emotions for clients, making it harmful if conducted by someone who is not trained.

  4. Creative interventions

    1. Utilizing art to support rapport and communication within session rather than utilizing it as a therapeutic treatment tool.

    2. Using materials that are common or well known to the client and therapist. 

      1. ​Paper, pencil, colored pencils, magazine images, marker, etc. 

    3. Not providing a creative process as a form of analyzing or treatment, but to gain more insight or encourage communication with a client.

  5. Ethical practice

    1. Being aware of professional ethical standards of practice and adhering to the boundaries outlined.

    2. Not using art to analyze, diagnose, or treat clients. 

      1. Analyzing is identifying the meaning of the images that are produced. 

    3. Using the term or advertising art therapy when a credential is not held or proper training has not been completed. 

  6. Art intervention experiences

    1. Containment boxes: A container created by the client to be used to assist in containing emotions, thoughts, or feelings. Promotes:

      1. Safety

      2. Empowerment and control

      3. Mindfulness

    2. Letter “I am enough”: Using letter writing to promote personal exploration, communication, and personal insight. 

      1. Can be used in a variety of situations: for grief, personal growth, conflict resolution, or family relationships. 

      2. Writing to express emotions and then inter weaving the positives. 


Materials needed:

Containment box

-Box (raisin box, empty tissue box, small amazon box, any small box or container)




Decorative paper, tissue paper, magazine images, markers, colored pencil, etc. *various art materials for decorating*


“I am enough” Letters

Paper (to write letter on) * can be small 

White or colored paper that is larger than the paper used for the letter

Decorative art materials: colored paper, magazine images, and tissue paper

Other suggested materials: markers, colored pencil, ribbon etc. 


X-acto knife or scissors (cutting matt if using X-acto knife)


Target audience: 

This workshop is best suited for individuals in the helping professions such as counselors, therapist, and social workers.