What is Art Therapy and Art Psychotherapy?
Art Psychotherapy and Art Therapy are both forms of psychotherapy. Art Psychotherapists have to be trained to Masters level, and to be registered with the HCPC. Art Psychotherapy is different to ‘Art’ for recreational activity as its roots are in psychological models. Through the therapy, the client is assisted in working with difficult feelings and finding ways to overcome, or live with obstacles.
Art psychotherapy is provided in groups or individually, depending on clients’ needs. It is not a recreational activity or an art lesson, although the sessions can be enjoyable. You do not have to be good at art, or have any experience of making art to work with an Art Psychotherapist.
The use of art is a way of communicating that which cannot be said with words, and creating something in reality that externalises feelings and thoughts, whilst archiving the process that the client and therapist engaged in. These resulting visual materials can help the client to understand and reflect on his/her circumstances, and progress.
Speech is also used in Art Psychotherapy, and the client might not make any art in some sessions, for the therapy is nondirective, process rather than product focused, and is not activity centred. Art Therapy is a psychodynamic therapy, utilising transference and projection, with reference to object relations and attachment theory, to explore the inner world of the client, facilitate integration and agency.
Art Psychotherapists work with children, young people, adults and the elderly. Clients may have a wide range of difficulties, disabilities or diagnoses. These include emotional, behavioural or mental health problems, learning or physical disabilities
Why Art Psychotherapy?
- Art Psychotherapy can help people who struggle to verbalise their feelings and thoughts
- Art Psychotherapy can empower people, by allowing them to visually communicate their fears, feelings and experiences.
- Gain insight into emotions, thoughts and feelings
- Self discovery and growth
- Personal fulfilment: to build confidence and nurture feelings of self worth
- Focus on self-compassion
- Sense of control over feelings
- Effective way to deal with physical pain and emotional distress
- Relaxation and stress relief
See the BAAT (British Association of Art Therapists) website for further information about Art Therapy
Sarah Williams is Co-Founder of https://creativetherapiescollective.org.uk/