What is Art Psychotherapy
Art therapy is a psychotherapy that uses art as part of the communication process.
Art Therapy, or Art Psychotherapy, is a psychological intervention that utilises creative making processes for communication, and wellbeing purposes. It can be carried out with individuals or groups, to explore and gain understanding of difficult circumstances or obstacles that the client is not dealing with effectively on his/her own terms. Through the therapy, the client is assisted in working with difficult feelings and finding ways to overcome, or live with obstacles.
The use of art is a way of communicating that which cannot be said with words, and creating something in reality that externalises feelings and thoughts, whilst archiving the process that the client and therapist engaged in. These resulting visual materials can help the client to understand and reflect on his/her circumstances, and progress.
Speech is also used in Art Psychotherapy, and the client might not make any art in some sessions, for the therapy is nondirective, process rather than product focused, and is not activity centred. Art Therapy is a psychodynamic therapy, utilising transference and projection, with reference to object relations and attachment theory, to explore the inner world of the client, facilitate integration and agency.
The artwork that is made is for the purpose of helping the client; it is not created for exhibition or craft purposes and is kept confidentially by the provider throughout the therapy. This ‘visual diary’ is then collected at the discretion of the client, over a given length of time once therapy has come to an end, or disposed of securely.
People who have Art Therapy do not need to be experienced in art making, for the work is about exchange, and the materials can be used freely without concern over making ‘good’ art or technically skilled pieces.
The therapist will consider the meaning of the work with the client, so interpretations are developed over time in collaboration, and are explorative rather than diagnostic.
See www.baat.org (British Association of Art Therapy) for more information.