what is art therapy?

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREI work as an art therapist with teenagers and adults. I have worked within school settings, GP practice, NHS paediatric hospital as well as in intensive psychiatric care/mental health settings

Using art to explore the world around us and to start expressing our thoughts and feelings is powerful. It can be an exciting to interact, make choices and piece together and understand your own personal story. Doing this within a therapeutic space that feels safe in which the art therapist holds the boundaries and develops a trusting relationship (carefully, over time) can bring about positive change and transformation for all involved.

I am passionate about supporting young people & adult’s to cultivate positive mental health and emotional well-being. In our contemporary culture there are so many reasons that we might end up feeling confusion and isolation. There are many competing pressures and at times this can be really hard to navigate, especially if sometimes you feel like you’re doing it on your own or you just don’t seem able to tell anyone.Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

Art therapy offers a safe space to start exploring and understanding what’s going on  – how you are feeling and where aspects of your day to day life might be causing some problems in some way.

Using materials like clay, paint, charcoal and pens to create something or just to doodle and play can help to start to get in touch with how you’re feeling. Sometimes it’s easier to make an image or an object that connects with something you’re feeling inside rather than find the words to talk about it. The image or object can open up a space to start to understand.

Art therapy sessions are offered weekly on one to one basis or as a group. One to one sessions usually last between 50 minutes and an hour. Groups last 1.5 hours – 2 hours. I work from a lovely space Upstairs@SIX in Hove.

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREArt therapy groups with young people who are patients at the Royal Alex.

This group is a place to share difficult thoughts and feelings with peers without having to worry about being judged or how others might react. There are no expectations, no getting it right or ‘behaving well’. It’s a place where all feelings can be explored including those that at times might be more difficult to accept or show.

Being part of an art therapy group can help a young person to explore difference, feel less isolated and better understood. Young people may also develop their confidence and ability to trust others as well as begin to value their own feelings and experiences more.

“He was very anxious before he joined. Since he has been attending he seems happier and more content”

“x loves art and this group allows him to express his feelings through a medium of colour, shape etc. It’s perfect for him”

“Safety, belonging, interaction. Trying art and exploring art”

Professional requirements for art therapists

Art therapist are bound by law to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) (www.hpc-uk.org). Membership of this body demands high standards of education and clinical practice and ensures public protection. The British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT) is the UK professional organisation for art therapists and has its own Code of Ethics of Professional Practice. It maintains a comprehensive directory of qualified art therapists and works to promote art therapy in the UK. The BAAT Code of Practice requires that:

  • Art Therapists’ clinical work is supervised either weekly, fortnightly or at a minimum monthly, depending on experience and the amount of patient/client weekly contact.
  • Art Therapists undertake Continuing Professional Development (CPD). The renewal of State Registration is linked to demonstrating achievement of professional competences.

It is illegal to practice as an Art Therapist or Art Psychotherapist in the UK unless registered with the HCPC

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