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  • Writer's pictureGenia Young

The Art of Psychotherapy

When I first decided to become a clinical supervisor I looked to the affirming experiences I had in supervision where art (art making, art media, art process) was at the core of our exploration into the therapeutic process. I was training as both a marriage and family therapist and an art therapist at the time. It was not until I started working as an art therapy supervisor that I began to understand how essential the creative process in supervision is to both professional identity and skill development as an art therapist. Later, through the work of Lisa Mitchell and Barbara Fish, I began to understand how creativity in supervision helps us to see therapy as an art form and therapists as artists.

What is arts-based supervision?

Arts-based supervision integrates the art making process (supervisor´s and superviseeś) into the supervision setting and may include art journaling, response art, practice prompts, and related discussions as a way to more deeply understand our clinical work. In addition to imagery, poetry, literature, music or other expressive arts may be referenced as well.

In arts-based supervision you are encouraged to reflect on your own creative process and art making both in and outside of the supervision meeting as a way to develop your therapeutic insight and self-awareness and to establish healthy habits for self-care. The intention is to begin to value the act of engaging with art as a way of knowing (see Pat B. Allen). Creative interventions can convey how clients order and understand the world and how we understand them.

An arts-based approach to supervision also encourages therapists to sustain their own art practice in whatever form it may evolve and connect with the part of themselves that had them initially pursue a career in art therapy as they are developing their art therapist identity.

What if I am not an art therapist?

Arts-based supervision is uniquely suited to art therapists but also has benefits for psychotherapists of different disciplines and experience levels, both personally and professionally. Incorporating the use of creative approaches in supervision has the potential to not only enhance your clinical skills, but also support your professional goals and develop your own authentic expression as a therapist. Engaging in a creative practice also helps to reduce stress and lessen the possibility of burnout.

Whether you are looking for clinical supervision, consultation, or just want to bring vitality back into your clinical practice, visit me at to schedule a free consultation.

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Genia Young is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Board Certified Art Therapist and Certified Art Therapy Supervisor in southern California. For more information about individual art therapy services, art-based clinical supervision or creative coaching, visit to schedule your free consultation.

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