“... is fun and free, you can be yourself in there”
“I used to think there was a wrong and a right and I had a strong critical voice…This has helped me to see that its actually in the process, it’s been really useful to help me think about things going on for me that I couldn’t talk about before…it also relaxes me”
“You can make something ugly and it’s still OK”
“Because of the fact that you’re doing art it’s not like having an intense conversation with someone”
“I’ve never missed an art therapy session….I’m proud of some of the work that I do and I am proud that I attend art therapy... I’m grateful, it’s cool”
~ reflection by clients / patients
Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses visual art media to support people to communicate often complex feelings, thoughts and experiences. It involves the use of visual and tactile media as a means of self-expression. Practitioners are registered health care professionals, approved to work in clinical settings with clients with a range of mental health concerns, developmental disorders and learning needs. Art psychotherapists are expected to uphold a safe therapeutic environment for their clients, following the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) Code of Ethics and the Principles of Professional Practice and Guidelines for Members.
Art therapy supports individuals to:
discover an outlet for often complex and confusing emotions that cannot always be expressed verbally
express difficult emotions, feelings and experiences
identify and understand difficult feelings and experiences
learn more about themselves
build self-esteem and confidence
foster self-awareness, a sense of self and growth
develop ways of relating to others
develop skills for managing anger and challenging behaviour
CASE EXAMPLE: Art therapy with refugees, torture survivors and trafficked women:
Art therapy with refugees offers children, young people and adults a place to put and make sense of difficult feelings & experiences. Clients are able to recognise the positive contributions they are able to make, both physically in the art-making and emotionally in supporting themselves and others in 'making concrete' fragmented, unimaginable and unthinkable thoughts and traumatic experiences. In turn this supports them to recognise their resilience and rebuild their lives. The art-making can offer clients some peace and calm away from intrusive thoughts, memories and feelings. They can seek some sanctuary in this space and find refuge in the act of a supportive, non-judgmental art psychotherapist 'bearing witness' to these previously unbearable thoughts, memories and feelings.
“I have been amazed at how art therapy has supported our clients. I have really witnessed how art therapy has enabled people to start to rebuild their lives and I have heard first-hand from clients how much they have appreciated the supportive space that art therapy has given them” ~ Therapeutic Case Unit Manager, Refugee Service
“These sessions have given me peace and respect, thank you” ~ Client, Refugee Service
“Art making gave me peace of mind in challenging times” ~ Client, Refugee Service
“I go to a calm place and enjoy working together with others” ~ Client, Refugee Service
Jess is a registered Art Psychotherapist with Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) and has an up to date check by the Disclosure & Barring Service (previously CRB).