Techniques, Applications & Ethics


Art Therapy Client Informed Consent Video 


In order to establish a solid and trusting therapeutic alliance with a client, it is ideal for the therapist to establish ground rules, boundaries, and the therapist’s limitations during the client’s initial session. Above is my informed consent video, which gives the client an idea of what art therapy is and how it works, educates the client about the ethical codes that I adhere to, their rights as a client, and the expectations and limitations of the therapeutic relationship. I also considered the possibilities and limitations of art therapy and let the client know they can choose for themselves if this modality is appropriate for them. It was my goal to let the client know that I am open to exploring alternative avenues, even if that means that I would no longer be their therapist. When discussing client confidentiality, I presented the necessary information, while also highlighting the trust and openness in the collaborative aspects of the therapeutic alliance.  I want my clients to know that it is never my intention to interpret their artwork or what they say, but rather, to guide them to their own realizations.

It is important to address the power differential that exists in a therapist and client relationship, and to make the therapeutic relationship one where these dynamics can be easily understood and discussed. In addition to consulting the Art Therapy Credentials Board and American Art Therapy Association’s ethical guidelines, I plan to seek supervision when I am uncertain in ethical situations. As every client is unique, so are the ethical issues that may present, and these can easily involve grey areas. The drawing of the scale below represents my understanding of ethics as a balance between guidance from the wisdom that has been learned through experience of those who have come before me and learning to trust my heart and instinct to intuitively guide me in situations where I am uncertain. 


Ethics Scale, watercolor and ink on paper. 

"Brown (2009) proposed that in its most basic form, ethics comes down to three things. First, it is about our deep longing for “right direction.” Second, it involves self-transcendence, by which we overcome our egos in order to apprehend larger meaning and compassion for human suffering. Third, ethics is centered on the fact that the choices we make, in the end, constitute who we are. That is, by “choosing certain courses of action, we cumulatively [become] genuine or fraudulent, authentic or inauthentic, human beings (Kapitan, 2012)." 

Kapitan, L (2012) But is it Ethical: Articulating and Art Therapy Ethos, Art Therapy, 28:4, 150-

151, DOI: 10.1080/07421656.2011.624930. 


Toxic Perfectionism Zine

Toxic Perfectionism is an issue that personally affects me. It is harmful in my relationship to my self and others, and causes unnecessary stress. The cycle of perfectionism involves putting pressure on myself to succeed, negative self-talk when I don’t live up to my own expectations, and ultimately leads to anxiety and depression. In researching this topic, I began to see how much perfectionism is ingrained in American culture and that it is a significant characteristic of white supremacy. Perfection =  above average or normal = the white patriarchal standard of what is to be considered normal. Perfectionism is striving toward someone else’s idea of what I should be, need to achieve, or live up to. This realization has helped me to begin dismantling this characteristic within myself, and I hope my zine will inspire others who struggle with perfectionism to similarly call into question this quality within themselves. 

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