Art therapy is particularly useful for people who may struggle to communicate verbally or to express their feelings. People who have been referred to an art therapist do not need to have experience, or be good at art - it is simply used as a medium for confronting difficult emotions and to help with awareness and self-development.
An art therapist works with people of all ages and backgrounds in a variety of settings including the NHS and private healthcare, special and mainstream education, drug and alcohol services, social services, prisons, stroke and head injury units, and palliative care and hospices. The art therapist must ensure they provide a safe and secure environment for their clients and will usually have distinct ways of working with clients in each environment.
Therapy may be carried out in group or one-to-one settings and art therapists may work closely with other healthcare professionals.
A registered art therapist or art psychotherapist (these titles can be interchangeable), will have undertaken approved training at postgraduate level, and be registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) (a legal requirement in order to practise in the UK).
The activities carried out by an art therapist vary depending on their client and the environment they’re working in but can include:
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