What is art therapy?
Art therapy involves making pictures or three dimensional work within the context of a therapeutic relationship. It is quite different to art teaching, art as a pastime or diversion.
This psychotherapeutic process allows the expressing and exploring of inner conflicts, feelings and emotional problems.
To assist the process, the art therapist creates an environment in which emotions can be contained. This is achieved by maintaining boundaries which include:
- respect for confidentiality
- meeting consistently at the same time and place, usually weekly, for each session.
Working with images
Art work can provide a valuable alternative to verbal communication as an image can depict experiences that are hard to put into words. This allows feelings normally disowned or unrealised to emerge.
The image can hold these feelings. Also, as it is concrete, it acts as a record of the therapeutic process. For many it is easier to relate to the therapist through art work as it provides a focus for discussion, analysis and self-discovery.
The aims of therapy
The creative process is essentially one of personal discovery. Even without interpretation a change may begin to take place in the inner world. Beyond this, however, work will occur with the art therapist in trying to understand the artwork produced in the session.
During the course of therapy strong feelings, which may have originated from relationships or early experiences, are transferred onto the therapist. Through interpretation and discussion you will become more aware of your feelings.
Art therapy can be used to work through a current phase of life or to re-work past experiences to integrate them into the present. The aim is to encourage insight and change, and to help equip you with the skills to cope more successfully outside therapy.
Who can use art therapy?
A wide range of art materials are readily available for you to use. Being “good at art” isn’t important and the images you create are not judged on their artistic value. Within art therapy a scribble can sometimes mean as much as an elaborately composed picture.
Art therapists work with individual people as well as groups. Different methods are used depending on need, the setting in which the therapy takes place and the approach of the art therapist.
Will everything I tell the therapist be confidential?
The things you talk about and the art work that you do with the therapist will be treated as confidential. Other health professionals who are directly involved in your treatment may be kept informed of your progress.
Very occasionally there are times when we may have to tell other people things which you have told the therapist, for example if we believe you or another person may be at risk.
Some details of your care may be recorded either on paper or on computer systems, but this information is strictly governed by the data protection act and only accessible by authorised personnel. If you would like this to be explained in more detail, please ask your therapist.
L503, V4, 29/03/2021 (Archive: 29/03/2024)