Positive Art Therapy:

Envisioning the Intersection of Art Therapy and Positive Psychology

Gioia Chilton and Rebecca A. Wilkinson

The George Washington University

[This article was published in 2009 in Australian New Zealand Journal of Art Therapy, 4(1), 27-35, printed here with minor typographical changes]Abstract

Art therapists returning from the International Positive Psychology Association’s (IPPA) World Congress identified the intersection between art therapy and positive psychology. The following viewpoint considers how positive psychology, the “science of happiness,” can enhance the art therapy profession and suggests how art therapy contributes to human “flourishing”–a state in which individuals and communities function with high levels of emotional, psychological, and social well-being A new term “Positive Art Therapy” explores the interplay between art therapy, positive emotions, positive character, and positive communities. Suggestions are presented to integrate positive art therapy practice, research, and training. It is proposed that by combining the strengths of positive psychology and art therapy, “Positive Art Therapy” can be pivotal in increasing human flourishing.