WHAT IS ART THERAPY?
Art Therapy is an allied health profession. An art therapist uses a combination of art making and psychotherapy skills to help people improve their health and wellbeing.
The making of objects and images really has always been a tool for us as humans. Engaging our heart and hands has always provided a kind of integration between our mind and body and art therapy harnesses this creative energy for healing and recovery. Art has marked our journey, provided means to share memories and stories, celebrate relationships, create objects and to simply let go and express.
"Art Therapy is a form of psychotherapy using art media as its primary mode of expression and communication. It differs from art education whereby the focus is not on the art project, rather it is on the therapeutic relationship, process of art making and the meaning you make from your artwork. It is not used as a diagnostic tool however can support you to process emotional distress and confusion which can lead to healing and recovery". BAAT, UK 2019.
Using art and play within a therapeutic relationship involves taking an active rather than passive role in therapy which research has shown is a key ingredient for longer lasting positive change as it creates new neural pathways in our brains. This way of working also connects us to a more playful way of being with ourselves which in turn brings self compassion, acceptance and often, a new perspective to our troubles.
This way of providing therapy can support the development of:
Problem solving, self regulation, sensory integration, social and interpersonal skills, physical skills, body awareness, self expression, imagination and stress and anxiety management.
Registered art therapists need to comply with the codes of practice of their professional organisation, engage in regular clinical supervision and need to have completed a recognised training course, usually a Masters in Art Therapy. While training, it is recommended that students receive personal therapy, to prepare them to understand the feelings associated with being in therapy, such as vulnerability and the emotional work involved.
Art therapy can be provided in groups or individually, depending on the individuals needs. No experience or expertise in art is needed to benefit from and enjoy art therapy.
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