ArtWorks Program virginia

ArtWorks, CRi’s therapeutic art program, provides a structured setting offering individuals with mental health needs & developmental disabilities the opportunity to learn new skills & explore their creative talents through various art media.

  • Online Referral Form: Click HERE!  
  • Printable Referral Form: Download HERE!

About ArtWorks

ArtWorks supports adults with mental health diagnoses and/or other developmental disabilities throughout Northern Virginia. The program provides community-based mental health support with a focus on skill-building & psycho-education through art. 

Participants expand creative talents by exploring a wide variety of media including painting, fused glass, fiber arts, printmaking, sculpture, knitting, & card making. Artists are also offered opportunities to develop marketing skills through exhibitions & sales within the community. For each piece of artwork sold, the artist earns 50% of the proceeds, with the remainder returning to the program to fund supplies & marketing. This approach provides participants the opportunity to be recognized for their abilities, make a profit, & most importantly helps to develop a sense of self.

ArtWorks Program Mission

ArtWorks provides a therapeutic & supportive atmosphere where adults with a wide range of disabilities learn coping skills through art, promoting recovery & independence.

What Is Art Therapy?

The American Art Therapy Association describes art therapy 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.”1

The Art Therapy Credentials Board, which manages the credentialing and testing process of art therapists, states that art therapy uses art media, the creative process and the resulting artwork as a therapeutic and healing process.2

How Can Art Therapy Help?

The descriptions of art therapy speak toward its general processes and benefits, but how can it actually aid those who are dealing with mental health or substance abuse disorders?

While very little scientific research has been done on art therapy and its effectiveness in the treatment of mental health and addiction disorders, the testimonials abound by practitioners, family members and even patients themselves of how art therapy has helped in the treatment of such disorders.

In 2015, researchers set out to study if and how art therapy affects the recovery process of adults with personality disorders, and their findings were encouraging.

They found that some benefits of art therapy may include:

  • Improved perception: Converting emotions in a visual way may help identify & make connections between emotion and body awareness for patients, which is a strong starting point in many therapeutic approaches.
  • Integration: Many patients who were unable to describe conflicting and strong emotions verbally found they could bring their feelings together in one image with art therapy.
  • Regulating emotions and impulses: With the guidance of a trained therapist, patients can learn through creative expression to regulate their emotional instincts and responses, creating opportunities for confidence and self-control.
  • Behavior adjustment: Art therapy can provide an opportunity to explore behavior and choices in a safe way, giving patients the opportunity to practice alternative responses and behavior.
  • Personal insight: Many patients are able to work through their own internal voices while working on their art. As they see their thoughts and feelings communicated through their art, they may be able to gain important understanding of their own condition with the help of a therapist.3

Who Can Benefit from Art Therapy?

  • Children: Many times children who have experienced trauma, grief or mental health disorders don’t have the ability to verbally express their thoughts or emotions completely. Art therapy allows children to explore their challenges and communicate in a creative way. It also allows kids to explore and cope with their feelings in a safe environment.4
  • Teens: Teens who experience psychological stress, mental illness disorders or co-occurring disorders are often difficult to connect with when it comes to therapeutic treatment. Often, a teen’s resistance to authority can add to the challenge. Art therapy appeals to their creativity and is a form of non-threatening communication. A teen’s art can give a trained therapist insight into their unique perspectives and needs.5
  • Adults: Art therapy appears to be beneficial for almost anyone. Most of us can use help processing our emotions and stress from time to time, and art therapy is a great avenue to maintain health. While there are skeptics, some experts are convinced art therapy, when provided by a trained a licensed therapist, can help a great deal with mental illness disorders and even co-occurring substance abuse disorders. However, the rising popularity of adult coloring books are not considered art therapy. While therapeutic and relaxing, coloring books cannot take the place of a trained, certified and/or licensed professional who has been trained in art therapy.6


1 “About Art Therapy.” American Art Therapy Association, Accessed February 12, 2018; 2 “FAQs” Art Therapy Credentials Board, Inc., Accessed February 12, 2018; 3 Malchiodi, Cathy. “Why Art Therapy Works.” Psychology Today, August 30, 2016; 4 Frank, Priscilla. “How Art Therapy Can Help Children Facing Mental and Emotional Challenges.” HuffPost, May 7, 2015; 5 Riley, Shirley. “Art Therapy With Adolescents.” Western Journal of Medicine, July 2001.; 6 Davis, Justin. “Who Can Benefit From Art Therapy?” Psychreg, September 28, 2016.


  • Online Referral Form: Click HERE!  
  • Printable Referral Form: Download HERE! 
Featured ArtWorks Artist

Meet Amy

Amy has a deep love and devotion to cats. She has two of her own. When in the studio, she enjoys drawing her own creation, Fred the cat & making various greeting cards (Happy Birthday, Just For You, Feel Better Soon, etc.). Thinking of new designs and drawing Fred brings her a lot of joy. Check out some of Amy's art on our ArtWorks Etsy Shop, below!

Visit Artworks on Facebook!

"Learning to deal with stress in difficult moments has been a challenge. It’s been a long road. I’m amazed at where I am now. CRi has been simply wonderful. I got so much help learning to live independently. Today I feel very independent, confident & more self-assured than I have been in awhile."

ArtWorks Participant

Get Involved with ArtWorks!

Volunteer with ArtWorks

GET INVOLVED WITH ARTWORKS! ArtWorks has numerous opportunities to work directly with the artists to foster individual choice, self-expression, empowerment, & growth through artistic activities. Use your experience & skills or join us & learn new ones. There are numerous ways to get involved with ArtWorks! Join us, today!

Volunteer with ArtWorks

Donate to ArtWorks

YOUR SUPPORT MATTERS! ArtWorks is funded through generous private donations from community members. Please click below to make a donation. Your gift will make an immediate impact on the ArtWorks program & its participants. From staffing, program supplies & space, your gifts help to greatly lighten the load of this critical program!

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