Art Psychotherapy

What is Art Psychotherapy?

Art psychotherapy offers patients opportunities to use art materials and process to support their expression of and thought about the feelings linked to the difficulties in their lives. Engagement with art materials in the supportive presence of an art psychotherapist enables patients to communicate, understand and reflect on their responses to life experiences, both verbally and non-verbally. The aim of art psychotherapy is to improve quality of life and personal relationships.

The opportunities for non-verbal communication offered by working with the materials are especially helpful for people who find it difficult to put their thoughts and feelings into words.

“...there are others, again, who neither see nor hear anything inside themselves, but whose hands have the knack of giving expression to the unconscious ”
Jung 1960/69

What can I expect from my Art Psychotherapist? 

 I provide a safe and confidential space in which I carefully listen to and reflect on a person's dreams, their symbolic imagery; their art work and symptoms and their account of the events in their daily life. I provide a range of art materials which I encourage patients to use to express their thoughts and feelings. Together, we share our understanding and thoughts about the artwork and the art-making process.  I endeavour to be sensitively attuned to the nature of the relationship between myself and my patients. In this way, through shared thinking and discussion, together we can try and understand the underlying issues presented through the art work and art-making process.

But I Can't Draw!

Prior experience with art making is not necessary. The art materials are used for self-expression and deepening understanding. The emerging art works are generally not suited to exhibition and display. They reflect deeply personal experiences that are communicated within the safety and confidentiality of the therapeutic relationship.

"Often the hands know how to solve a riddle with which the intellect has struggled in vain." Jung 1960/69

“Thank you for helping me through a difficult period in my life.”
adult patient*

*This and other similar statements on this website are indicative of the kind of feedback I have received, and are not actual phrases used by real people. All discussions in sessions are confidential.

 Does Art Psychotherapy work?

There is a growing body of research which explores the efficacy of art therapy. You may like to read:
Gilroy, A. (ed.) (2011)
 Art Therapy Research in Practice. Verlag Peter Lang, Bern.

Gilroy, A. (2006) Art Therapy, Research and Evidence-based Practice. Sage Publications, Ltd

"I believe that with its many subspecialities, art therapy has the key, or perhaps a key, to our understanding of the mechanisms underpinning change in all kinds of psychological treatments. This is in part because many forms of art therapy are not principally language based and also ……… because art therapy is closest to what we now understand to be the embodied roots of human consciousness and cognition. There is every chance that through better understanding art therapy, we will arrive at a superior understanding of the 1000 or so different models of psychotherapy currently practiced, each claiming its unique and privileged place in relation to the healing of psychological wounds and ensuring resilience and wellbeing.” 
Peter Fonagy 2012