What is Art Therapy

Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art materials as its primary mode of communication rather than words as in a more traditional ‘talking’ psychotherapy. Through the process of art psychotherapy the client can begin to express, recognise and acknowledge those experiences or issues which have given rise to the emotional pain and distress of their present difficulties.

The aim of the psychotherapy is to bring about meaningful change via the dynamic interactions of the image, the client and the therapist through the use of art materials in a safe, consistent and facilitating environment.

It is important to note that clients who come to art psychotherapy need not have any previous experience or skill in making art. Also art psychotherapy is not an art class where there is a right or wrong way of making something or thinking about what has been made. In fact being able to paint or draw ‘technically’ well can sometimes hinder self-expression. However, it is important that you have some willingness to use art materials and have an enquiring or curious mind enough to want to explore things about your Self.

Art psychotherapy can be particularly helpful to clients who find it hard to express their thoughts and feelings verbally.

Art psychotherapy involves both a period of creative activity, where there is a variety of art materials available, and a period of discussion and reflection. This will normally focus on the image and what it evokes for the client who made it. Different art materials can convey a sense of how the client is feeling and, by reflection on the image, how those feelings relate to the client’s personal situation and inter-personal relationships and the relationship with their internal world.

Art Therapy Examples

Wounded Angel

Wire mesh and glued on tissue drizzled with acrylic paint

Cracked Pot / Container

Air drying clay painted with acrylics, repaired with PVA glue


Wire mesh, glued tissue, plastic shreds, acrylic dripped paint

Coral Sea Bed With Fish

Wire mesh and plaster mod roc decorated with beads and coloured sand / grit and fish symbol

How can Art Therapy help?

You will have a space to talk about your psychological or emotional problems in confidence and within a supportive, therapeutic relationship.

Through the process it can help you get to know yourself better by talking and thinking about the images that have been made. The creative aspect of this therapy helps you to work with ideas you have about who you are (or develop them), challenge some unhelpful patterns of self-beliefs or the way you view yourself or how you think others view you.

The aim of the therapy is to bring about meaningful change and this is done through the interactions between you and your picture and what you have to say about it as well as through the developing therapy relationship. The therapist is also available to offer their thoughts or interpretations about what you say or describe about the pictures.

Art psychotherapy is not recommended if you want to use art making as a way of relaxation or distraction or are seeking to take your mind off your worries. It can, however, be a way of learning about yourself and finding your own story.

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I am a registered art psychotherapist with the British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT) and registered to practice with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

To Jung, the purpose of life was to realise one’s own potential, to follow one’s own perception of the truth, and to become a whole person in one’s own right. This was the goal of individuation, as he later called it.

Anthony Stevens

I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.

Carl Jung

Creativity is discontent translated into arts.

Eric Hoffer