Who is Art Therapy for?

Art therapy is practiced with both adults and children in a wide range of settings including mental health, education, special needs, healthcare, community and social services, as well as through private practice.

Do I have to be good at art?

No. Art therapy is not an art class and no artistic skill is necessary. There is no right or wrong approach. In an art therapy session emphasis is not placed on the finished art object but instead on the client’s personal experience of the process, and thoughts and emotions revealed by the image.

Does the art therapist analyse my images?

Each image holds meaning that is unique and personal to its creator. It is felt to be more beneficial for the therapist to explore the image with the client and allow them to arrive at their own personal understanding.

How long does treatment generally last?

This depends on each individual. Some clients meet their goals for therapy in a couple of sessions, whilst others may need longer, or on-going exploration and emotional support, depending on their circumstances and needs.

What training and professional qualifications should an art therapist have?

Art therapists must complete a postgraduate training programme, usually at masters level, at an approved college. This includes a minimum number of supervised clinical hours and personal therapy, as well as theoretical and experiential learning. Art therapists should be registered with their professional association who govern and uphold standards and ethics of the profession. In Ireland this is The Irish Association Of Creative Arts Therapists. Practicing art psychotherapists must receive regular supervision in accordance with the ethics of their professional body.

Brief History of Art Therapy

The therapeutic value of art, and its use by man for cultural self-expression have long been acknowledged. The term art therapy was first used in Britain and the United States during the post World War II rehabilitation movement when it was recognised that art-making enhanced recovery, health and wellness. Early 20th century psychiatrists and educators became interested in the artwork created by their patients. Pioneers of art therapy came from the fields of art education and the psychoanalytic tradition. Professional training was established which led to recognition of Art Therapy as an allied healthcare profession. Art therapy brings together strands of psychoanalytical thinking, developmental psychology and psychotherapy with art expression. Art Therapy is influenced by analytical theorists such as Winnicott, Jung, Klein and Freud.