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about art psychotherapy

Art Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art making and the creative process as a primary mode of communication, helping people in distress. It can be particularly helpful to people who may find it difficult to talk about problems, worries and confusing feelings.

Art Therapy takes place within a structured and confidential setting and uses a variety of art materials to help the person to express themselves. We tend to use language to talk about the things we consciously aware of, whereas making art can also allow unconscious feelings and motivations to emerge. In this way it can provide a ‘bridge’, helping a person to become more self aware and find more appropriate ways to communicating how they feel to the people around them.

Art Therapists do not direct the person in therapy to make art in a certain way, though they might make suggestions if the person felt stuck about how to continue. Similarly, they do not interpret the meaning of the pictures but work with you to help them arrive at your own understanding of the significance of the art work. Consequently the pace of the work is always determined the person in therapy. It is less about the finished art piece and more about the process over time. You do not have to be 'good at art'! Talking and playing can also be part of the communication.

The duration of therapy varies depending on the needs of the individual and can range from about half a dozen sessions to a year or more for those experiencing very significant difficulties. Sessions are usually offered on a weekly or fortnightly basis. A regular undisturned room will be required preferably with a sink or easy access to water.

The relationship between the therapist and the client is of central importance, but art therapy differs from other psychological therapies in that it is a three way process between the client, the therapist and the image or artefact. Thus it offers the opportunity for expression and communication and can be particularly helpful to people who find it hard to express their thoughts and feelings verbally. (BAAT website)

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