How Does Art therapy work?

         We naturally look for ways to heal ourselves and survive. As with all types of therapy the aim is to support each individual to heal ‘themselves’, i.e. the therapist doesn’t write a prescription or give ‘answers’; the art therapist is a support mechanism.

         “The organism, in its normal state, moves toward its own fulfilment, toward self-regulation and an independence from external control.”  (Rogers, 1980:119)







Who would benefit from Art Therapy?

· Art Therapy can be beneficial in individual or in group settings.

· Art Therapists work in a variety of environments including hospitals, palliative care, prisons, schools, disability services, mental health services etc.

Art Therapy can be an excellent medium for all age groups and cultural backgrounds as verbal communication is not central to this form of therapy.

What should I look for in an art therapist?


          Qualifications: Post graduate- 2/3 years; U.K trained, Crawford, Cork and Queen’s Belfast.

          Registration– ensures ethical and legal compliance. Registration is reviewed every 2 years and CPD Continued professional development

 (continual training and updating of skills) is mandatory. At present there is no registration system for art therapists  in the South of Ireland.

          Supervision (i.e. Therapy about their therapy practice). – All therapists are obliged to undergo Supervision and they should discuss this with every client.

          Insurance: legally have to be insured (an art therapist won’t get insurance if not fully trained).

          Memberships; IACAT-The Irish Association of Creative Arts Therapists

And BAAT -The British Association of Art Therapists


What is Art Therapy?


· Art Therapy is a form of Psychotherapy where the client uses art as a medium to express and communicate with a qualified Art Therapist.

· The overall aim of Art Therapy is to effect change and growth on a personal level through the use of art materials in a safe, confidential and facilitating environment.

· No previous experience with art is required. The Art Therapist does not interpret the art work, only the creator knows what the art work means. This empowers the client to disclose only what feels safe for them.

 · The art work becomes the central focus of the client and the art therapist in an art therapy session. This may seem less ‘daunting’ for the client than a traditional form of psychotherapy where the client sits facing the therapist.

· The art work itself can become a container: a tangible and powerful expression of emotion that can be ripped up/ locked away/ treasured and reviewed over time.

· Art Therapy can be directed, using specific projects such as; a journaling group, working with  imagery from dream work, creatively working with bereavement and loss etc.

 The process of art therapy is based on the recognition that man’s most fundamental thoughts and feelings, derived from the unconscious, reach expression in images rather than words”. (Naumberg 1958: 511).

Naumberg, Margaret (1958) Art Therapy: Its scope and function. In E.F. Hammer (ed) Clinical applications of projective Drawings. Springfield, Ill: C.C Thomas.