Why would I/my child come to Art Therapy? People attend Art Therapy for a number of different reasons. This can range from a child struggling with making friends at school to an adult experiencing depression or anxiety. Art Therapy can also help if a person wants to gain confidence, promote creativity or simply engage with a mindful professional to reflect on their day to day life. It is best to think of Art Therapy as a form of counselling or psychotherapy that encourages self-expression through using art materials.
Will I join my child's sessions? In art therapy, and many other psychotherapies, the sessions are 1:1. This allows for a relationship and trust to be built between therapist and client, and encourage more uninhibited expression. You may be invited in the first session to help your child feel at ease, and sessions can take a dyadic format if this is a therapeutic aim, however typically your child will attend by themselves. I would ask you to respect your child's privacy whilst remaining open to support them if they choose to share aspects of their sessions with you. General themes of the sessions can be shared, however it is integral to the therapy for the child to know the sessions are private and confidential. Of course in the event of a safeguarding concern, i am required to break this confidentiality, which is explained from the outset.
Do I need to be good at art to come to Art Therapy? Not at all - the importance is placed on the process of art-making instead of the finished artwork. It is my job as an Art Therapist to provide a range of different materials to encourage you to express yourself creatively. It is important to understand that the goal of Art Therapy is not to create a pretty picture to display on the wall, and sometimes it can be helpful to just 'make a mess'.
How is Art Therapy different to an art class? A number of ways. In Art Therapy, you will either have one-to-one sessions with a trained professional, or a group with a small number of others clients. Either way, the aim is to engage in a therapeutic relationship in a safe and confidential place. There is no right or wrong way to make art in an Art Therapy session - hopefully the art-making will help you to understand something or reflect on a part of your life.
Will you tell anyone what I say in a session? All Art Therapy sessions, reviews and assessments are confidential. This means that I will not tell anyone about what is said or made unless you want me to. Confidentiality is only broken if I believe that somebody is at risk of harm, at which point I will take the steps to ensure everyone is kept safe, but I will try to talk to you first if appropriate.
What happens in a standard session? Every session is different, but generally a session begins with a check-in about your week, issues you are facing, or general difficulties. You may then be invited to use the art materials in response to this. I can offer themes or materials to use if you find it difficult to begin, however some people have an idea of what they want to use or make. The art-making can progress over a number of sessions, but it is important to retain a portion of the session at the end to reflect on what has happened in the session. Here we will reflect on the process of the art making or what you have made, which will hopefully lead to insights about yourself or your situation.
What is the usual Art Therapy process? After receiving the initial referral, I arrange to meet with yourself/your child to introduce myself. After this, we look at whether Art Therapy is the right choice for you, and together decide on an appropriate time-frame for the length of the therapy. The first few sessions take the form of assessments to see how you/your child react to themes, materials and tasks. We then review this and information is fed back to the team and yourself. If it is deemed appropriate, the therapy continues with regular reviews to ensure the most appropriate intervention is provided. When an ending is set, this is explained and worked through with you/your child.
Do you analyse what I make in a session? I will not analyse what you make. I believe that you are the only person that knows what your art means, and sometimes it is only through reflection, discussion and expressing yourself that this may reveal itself to you. I may 'wonder' or ask questions with you, but this is only to facilitate your own awareness.
Are you trained and qualified? All Art Therapists, or Art Psychotherapists, are required by law to hold a Master's Degree with an accredited institution. Usually they also hold an Undergraduate degree in Art or Psychology and have experienced their own therapy as part of their course. We are all required to register with the Health Care Profession's Council in order to legally practice, which you can check online. All Art Therapist's must also attend Continued Professional Development to keep their knowledge and practice up to date.