Art Therapy Supervision

In the past 2 years I have begun embracing my role as an Art Therapy Supervisor.  Previously I had the experience of being the senior Art Therapist in a setting or, as many of us have experienced, was the only Art Therapist.  I was frequently put into the role of “looking after” the Art Therapist in training or the interns as they got their feet wet in the field, which was particularly important in the Residential Treatment Center I was working in at the time.  As I grew into my own role and matured as an Art Therapist I began to supervise others in a more official capacity. Since that time I have continually looked at how well I am functioning as a supervisor and mentor to new Art Therapists, because it is not an easy job and I want to do my best. The role of the supervisor is vital to our field, not only so that we can register more art therapists but so that we can register and board certify well equipped, knowledgeable and GREAT Art Therapists. I personally want everyone that encounters an Art Therapist to be impressed by what we do, I want them to see how powerful Art Therapy is and I want them to value us as experts in our field who are  assets to any clinical team. Because I feel so strongly about the importance of the supervisor role I have sought out training and am frequently reading up on methods of Art Therapy supervision.

Recently I was going back through Articles and came across one on Art Based Supervision in Art Therapy Training by Barbara J. Fish from the 2008 Journal of the American Art Therapy Association. I think this article is worth sharing because Barbara J.Fish was studying Art Making as a part of Art Therapy supervision and the formal evaluation of  its effectiveness. Many of you may be thinking that Art Making is a pretty standard practice in Art Therapy supervision, which may be true for most, but I have seen many Art Therapists trained and supervised in many different ways. I love using art making as a part of supervision, but to be honest it is not the only tool I use. I am also trained as an LPC and LMFT in the state of Virginia and can find myself getting stuck outside of my Art Therapist self. I liked this article, and thought it was worth mentioning, because it was thought provoking and as far as I could tell the effectiveness of using of Art Making in Supervision was not previously studied in this way. The results are what we all know, that art making IS effective in Supervision and should be utilized. The article goes on to discuss the findings and begins to discuss the concept of balance, finding a balance between Art  based and more Verbal supervision based on a  students learning needs. For me, re-discovering this article was a good reminder of my roots and where I want to/should be in my role as an art therapy supervisor.  Finding balance may be a key concept for me right now, the introspection that this article evoked was much needed and appreciated. As I stated earlier I want others to see Art Therapists and respect what we do, I want them to trust our process so shouldn’t I trust it too? Allowing myself to push art making  to the back burner in order to achieve another goal will not make me a better supervisor, but neither will ignoring a supervisee’s other learning needs.

If you would like to read the full version of the article I have mentioned above you can find it at the following link:


2 responses to “Art Therapy Supervision

  1. Hi,
    I am currently an art therapy student at Southwestern College in Santa Fe, NM and I am trying to find an internship in Va for the coming spring. I was wondering if you had any tips on places that have an internship program? Since the VA Art Therapy site is still under construction its not easy to get much info on this topic. I read this blog post and thought I would give it a shot on here.

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