What is art therapy?

Art therapy is a type of psychotherapy that uses art to express and communicate. Within this context, art is not used as a diagnostic tool but as a medium to address emotional issues which may otherwise cause distress. Art therapists are influenced by a range of psychotherapeutic ideas, including attachment-based psychotherapy and client-centred approaches such as psycho-educational, mindfulness, compassion-focussed and cognitive analytic therapies. 

Who benefits from art therapy?

Children, young people, adults and the elderly may see an art therapist. They may have a variety of problems, such as mental and physical disabilities, mental illness, emotional or behavioural problems. NICE recommends art therapy for people with schizophrenia; it is also often suggested for people with dementia. But anyone who has difficulty expressing themselves would benefit from art therapy.

Sessions can be individual or in groups. They are not like art classes, and clients need have no previous experience of working with art media.

A creative therapy like art therapy can be useful for people who find it difficult to express their feelings and anxieties with words. The process of creating art may help resolve issues, as well as develop and manage their behaviours and feelings, reduce stress, and improve self-esteem and awareness.

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Last updated on September 2 2015