What is Art Therapy?
Sometimes periods of our lives can feel difficult and helpless, affecting our everyday lives and our relationship with others. These experiences can feel out of our control and overwhelming. This is when Therapy can really help.
Art Therapy can be thought about as Psychotherapy using the additional media of art materials as a means to provide another way of communicating. This method of psychotherapy work can be particularly useful when working with past trauma, when verbal language does not always come naturally. Art making has the beneficial impact of connecting with our unconscious and allowing our unresolved, unprocessed and raw feelings to be expressed through materials. Art making is typically used along with talking within a session and led by the client’s choices.
Art Psychotherapy has many similarities to other forms of therapy such as Body Informed Therapy and EMDR. Art making during the experience of recalling disturbing memories provides the opportunity to remain in the present moment, dramatically reducing the risks of re-traumatising. Art making allows for the use of both hemispheres of the brain to be engaged, therefore supporting the processing of disturbing memories and leading them to become desensitised. The artwork often provides the opportunity for self-expression, but also acts as a container for felt emotions and a visual tool for reflection.
As a Psychodynamic Therapist there is focus on the relationship between the client and therapist. Within this relationship the client is heard, thought about, listened to, accepted and given room to explore feelings and thoughts. This works to reduce anxieties, confusions, disturbing thoughts or feelings, self harm and make space to reflect on situations we find difficult.
Art Therapists in the UK are required to be registered with the HCPC and undergo a two year Masters Degree in Art Psychotherapy, following a three year BA Hons and two year expereince in mental health. Art Therapists are required to keep up with our career development each year by continuing to learn, network, discuss and think about existing and new ways of working.