When words are not enough
“Art Therapy is the use of art materials for self-expression and reflection in the presence of a trained art therapist. Clients who are referred to an art therapist need not have previous experience or skill in art, the art therapist is not primarily concerned with making an aesthetic or diagnostic assessment of the client’s image. The overall aim is to enable a client to effect change and growth on a personal level through the use of art materials in a safe and facilitating environment.” BAAT (2003)
Through the process of art therapy, a safe, confidential space is created to enable people to express themselves. This happens at the person’s own pace, where a three way process between the client, the therapist and the image emerges in order to work through emotional difficulties.
Art Therapy may be offered individually or in a group. In either case, the aim is to help individuals to use image making to express and think about issues affecting their well-being.
Who can Art Therapy benefit?
Art Therapy can benefit everybody.
A brief outline of people who may be referred to Art Therapy may encompass: symptoms including depression and anxiety; inability to express feelings, or out of touch with feelings; Difficulty in coping with issues of separation, loss, or bereavement; social and communication difficulties; experiencing emotional or behavioural difficulties; lack of clear identity; low self-esteem/self-image; Lack of purpose; difficult controlling emotions; relationship difficulties; trauma and addiction.
Those who have experienced trauma can access memories and experiences more readily through image making than traditional talking therapies. If someone cannot verbalise a past event, it can offer the expression of emotion through the use of an art process.
How can Art Therapy help?
It offers a space which gives a chance to unpack emotions and patterns within a client’s life. Making images offers a means of enabling a person to give form and expression to troubling thoughts and feelings they are unable to express in words. This is often experienced as being a non-threatening way to communicate which is favourable when people find talking about their feelings difficult. Using the art materials offers the individual a non-verbal, safe-way of working. This process may bring about positive change and lessen the impact of the underlying difficulty.
In the context of a supporting relationship, the art therapy process can facilitate emotional growth, increase self-esteem and psychological and social integration. The permanence of the artworks provides an opportunity for the art therapist and the individual to reflect upon changes occurring during the course of therapy, enabling a sense of focus and continuity that might otherwise have been lost.
What takes place?
A session normally lasts an hour, and usually takes place the same time each week. Generally, the therapist uses a non-directive approach enabling the client to use their time in a way that best suits them, offering a variety of art materials they can use, to play, to talk, together with the art therapist.
What is the Art Therapist’s role?
Art Therapists and Art Psychotherapists (both titles are interchangeable and protected by Law), once finishing their postgraduate training, are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council, which is a legal requirement in order to practise Art Therapy or Art Psychotherapy in the UK. The Register, and the standards of education, conduct, performance and ethics that are laid down by HCPC aim to protect the public who use the services of the registered professionals.
The British Association of Art Therapist (BAAT) is the professional organisation for the registered Art Therapist in the UK. BAAT represents the interests of the profession and works to promote the use of Art Therapy in the UK, and has a Code of Ethics and Principles of Professional Practice in accordance with which (and those of HCPC), registered Art Therapists work.
How much are the sessions?
£40 per hour