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Art Therapy

Art Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that helps individuals express themselves through the creation of art e.g. drawing, painting & modelling. This allows them to explore specific personal images & metaphors, which lie at the very core of a person's personality. It is useful for exploring & healing emotional or mental traumas.
Art Therapy

In This Article
History: How does it work?:
A typical appointment: Timings/ Cost/ Sessions:
Is it right for you?
Debate on the origins of Art Therapy is ongoing as therapeutic art and visual expression have been used by mankind for thousands of years. As a profession, Art Therapy is a strand of psychotherapy and as such draws on the late 19th century work of Sigmund Freud. Freud's 'psychoanalysis' involved association, interpretation of dreams and transference to treat patients with mental disorders.

Art Therapy today utilises Freud's methods and other psychotherapy techniques. One of the pioneers of Art Therapy was American teacher and psychotherapist Margaret Naumburg. In the early 20th century, Naumburg founded a school in New York where she used art to allow children to express themselves. Using psychoanalysis, Naumburg was able to view the children's art as symbolic imagery of their subconscious thoughts and feelings.

The term 'Art Therapy' was coined by British artist Adrian Hill in 1942. Hill was being treated for tuberculosis and believed his emotional recovery was down to artistic expression. Hill encouraged other patients to paint and noted how their anxiety and trauma was expressed within their art.

Art Therapy involves an individual using art as a way of expressing their subconscious thoughts and emotions. The art can take the form of sculpture, drawing or painting and utilises any artistic material. Art can display repressed feelings and conflicts and by analysing the image, and the process involved with creating it, an Art therapist can help individuals understand the cause of their problem and help make changes to their way of thinking or behaviour.

A theory behind Art Therapy is that a person's creativity and ability to heal come from the same place. Art Therapy triggers the two processes and provides a communication medium that can help with overcoming emotional conflict. Art Therapy can also provide a way of coping with stress, manage behaviour or help build better personal relationships. Art therapy is also used as a positive step toward increasing self-esteem and improving quality of life.

As a psychotherapy method, Art Therapy benefits those people who find it difficult to express themselves verbally and actually provides a 'talking point' for the therapist and client from the image created.

Be prepared - It is advisable to choose an Art Therapy practitioner who is a member of, or is accredited by, an association or professional body. This ensures your Art Therapy session is carried out in a suitable environment and by someone who has received formal training and ongoing development. Members are also bound to a code of ethics and practice. The main Art Therapy organisations are listed at the foot of this article. On finding an Art Therapy practitioner, ask about their expertise and testimonials from previous clients.

Before your first appointment, write down what your problems are and what you hope to achieve with Art Therapy. Also write down any questions or concerns you have about the therapy as you may forget to ask them during the session. If you are taking prescription drugs, take them with you or make a note of what they are.

If you're considering Art Therapy, don't worry about your artistic ability. You do not need any prior training or qualifications as the quality of your sculpture or painting is not being judged. Art therapy encourages free expression in the way you construct your image as well as the finished article.

What to expect - Before Art Therapy, you may be asked to visit the Art therapist to assess if the therapy is suitable for you. This initial consultation will involve taking a medical history and asking questions about your lifestyle and general health.

The Art therapist may work as a primary therapist or as part of a treatment team. Should they be needed, your therapist may recommend referral to another specialist. They will discuss this with you at your first appointment and throughout your therapy.

Art Therapy can take place in a group or on an individual basis. Your Art therapist will have discussed the best environment for you beforehand. During your session you will use various artistic materials (e.g. paint, clay, chalk) to create paintings, drawings, sculptures or collages. The materials will be provided for you.

Your session may be structured (known as a directed Art Therapy) and the Art therapist will give you a specific material and instructions on what to do with it. A non-directed Art Therapy session allows you to choose the material to work with and the theme (which can be free expression).

The relationship between you and your Art therapist is based on trust and an important part of the process. You will usually leave all your artwork with the therapist at the end of the session and it will be kept confidential. Your Art therapist may give you work to do at home to bring with you for the next session.

Art Therapy group sessions usually last for one hour and individual sessions from 45-60 minutes. Your initial consultation may last around an hour as your practitioner gains an understanding of your problems and medical history.

Art Therapy costs can vary but as a guide expect to pay £30 - £60 for a session depending on your location and practitioner's overheads. Group sessions may cost slightly less. It is advisable to check these costs before making an appointment.

Sessions take place on a weekly basis and many Art therapists recommend a course of 12-15 sessions to fully explore your issues. Some Art therapists have an open-ended approach and will allow you to continue beyond your agreed number of sessions if you feel it would be beneficial.

Art Therapy is available to people of all ages and can help with a variety of issues and disorders within the mental health field. Due to its non-clinical environment and creative process, children in particular have found Art Therapy beneficial enabling them to communicate with the therapist more easily than with other psychotherapy methods.

Consult with your GP and Art Therapy practitioner about any problems or concerns you have as they are trained to recognise what can and cannot be treated with the therapy.

This therapy or modality may help with:

Abandonment Abuse Anger Management
Anorexia nervosa Anxiety Autism
Bedwetting Bereavement Betrayal
Bipolar Disorder Bulimia Bullying
Childhood Abuse Depression Despair Anguish
Gender issues Insecurity Insomnia
Jealousy Low Self Esteem Nightmares
Panic Attacks Rejection Relationship Problems
Relationship Problems Couples Relationship Problems Twins Seasonal Affective Disorder
Self Harm Sexual Dysfunction

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Featured Art Therapy Practitioners

Sample Of Practitioners By Location

About Therapist Qualifications

British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT) British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT) More Info HPC Health Professionals Council HPC Health Professionals Council More Info


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