“It is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self” – D.W. Winnicott
Art psychotherapy is an established mental-health profession that helps to improve and enhance the mental and emotional wellbeing of individuals. It is a form of psychotherapy that uses art media and the creative process of art-making as a mode of communication, allowing individuals to use art as a way of expressing their subconscious thoughts and emotions. The participant can use any materials and the art can take any form, including drawing, painting, collage and sculpture.
Art therapy has been practised within the NHS since 1946 and art psychotherapy has been a state-registered profession since 1981. Art therapy programmes are commonly found in settings such as hospitals, clinics, public and community agencies, wellness centres, educational institutions, businesses and private practices. Art psychotherapy is based on the belief that there is inherent healing power in the creative process and that artistic self-expression can help individuals in a number of ways, for example in resolving conflicts and problems, reducing stress, promoting centeredness, increasing self-esteem and self-awareness, achieving insight, developing interpersonal skills and managing their behaviour.
Training of an Art Psychotherapist
Art psychotherapists are trained to understand the processes involved in making art, which is underpinned by knowledge and experience of therapeutic practice. The Masters-level training involves two or three years of work with individuals and groups in a range of settings, such as inner-city schools, psychiatric wards, hospitals and the prison service. Art therapists have a first degree in art or a relevant subject, and must have extensive previous experience of working in an area of health, education or social care. Qualified art therapists are regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).