Art Therapy...

'is a form of psychotherapy that uses art media as its primary mode of expression and communication.Within this context, art is not used as a diagnostic tool but as a medium to address emotional issues which may be confusing and distressing'. (The British Association of Art Therapists, BAAT).

Who do Art Therapists work with?

Art Therapists work with people of all ages and abilities in a number of settings including mental health services, schools, prisons, learning disability services, residential homes and day and respite services. They are employed in both statutory and voluntary services. A number of Art Therapists work on a freelance basis or in private practice. 

What issues can art therapy help with?

Art therapy  provides a safe and accepting space for people to talk about themselves and what may be troubling them. Art Therapy can be useful for people who struggle to communicate their feelings and emotions  particular as it does not rely solely on verbal language, allowing instead another means of communication through using art materials allowing feelings to be accessed more readily without words getting in the way. The Art Therapist is trained to allow individuals to gain a greater understanding their art language.   

Individuals with learning disabilities, autism, dementia and acquired brain injury can find this a useful way to find meaning and give shape to feelings and emotions that may otherwise present in a more distressful and challenging manner.

For individuals seeking sessions

If you suffer from any of the following difficulties, you may find Art Therapy beneficial...

  • Low self esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger issues
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Eating disorders

Sometimes people can be emotionally distressed about their previous or present circumstances. Art therapy is a recognised treatment for many kinds of mental health issues, psychological and emotional distress. Through making visual images, or simply using the art materials, in the presence of an Art Therapist it is often possible to express feelings which are difficult to put into words. Working in this manner may allow individual to move away from repetitive patterns of behaviour or thought patterns and see themselves differently.  

Improving self expression and communication within the therapeutic relationship can help by reducing feelings of isolation and help to contain emotions, which may then reduce stress, depression and anxiety.

  • In art therapy, art materials are used to play and experiment with 
  • The process of making art itself can be therapeutic itself and aid self expression, or relieve difficult or painful feelings 

Is any artistic skill required?

  • No particular skill, experience or ability in art is required, just a willingness to use the art materials in an exploratory way.
  • Art Therapy is not a recreational activity or an art lesson, although the sessions can be enjoyable.

Who is an Art Therapist? 

Art Therapy is a regulated profession and in the UK, only those who...

may legally use the titles Art Therapist/ Art Psychotherapist. 

To ensure safe, effective and legal practice and keep skills and knowledge up to date Art Therapists' have a statutory requirement to...

  • Undertake continuing professional development (CPD)
  • Re-register every 2 years

The British Association of Art Therapists, (BAAT), is the professional organisation for Art Therapists in the United Kingdom and has its own Code of Ethics of Professional Practice.

  • Full membership is only open to registered Art Therapists
  • Art Therapists are bound by the standards of conduct, performance and ethics of both HCPC and BAAT
  • Although not a statutory requirement a private practitioner who is registered with The British Association of Art Therapists,(BAAT) and appears in the Member Directory, is required to meet additional criteria, that is reviewed on a 2 yearly basis.

What's the difference between an Art Therapist and an arts in health practitioner?

There is often confusion by hiring organisations as to this difference, there are is a fundamental overlap this being the use of art for mental well being, there are also distinct and important differences.   

The key one of these being that an Art Therapist is a psychological therapist trained in an art area. An arts in health practitioner is not.

The second important difference is that Arts in health practitioners are not regulated.

Art Therapists are regulated by the HCPC, meaning that Art Therapists are required to meet national standards of proficiency. It also means that the public are protected should a professional fail to meet these standards.

Although influenced by psychoanalysis, the practice of Art Therapy is diverse and has evolved to reflect the cultural and social diversity of the people who engage in it. Art Therapists my draw from attachment based psychotherapy, mentalization, mindfulness, cognitive analytic therapies, psycho-education and have developed  a number of client centred approaches integrating these theories. There is also a keen focus on exploring links between neuroscience and Art Therapy.


What About confidentiality?


Information is shared amongst the team on a need to know basis. Any safeguarding issues would be raised following organisational procedure. In this instance the duty of care is held by the organisation. 

Private Practice

The content of the session is confidential. However, if there is a significant risk of harm to self or others. Or a disclosure relating to a significant historical offence the Art Therapist has a duty of care to share that information with relevant people. Where appropriate I will tell you before I do this.