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What is art therapy?

Art therapy uses art media as a mode of expression and communication within the framework of psychotherapy. Art does not provide a psychological diagnosis, but acts as a medium through which patients can express emotional issues they may find confusing and distressing.

Art therapy can be provided to groups or on a one-to-one basis, depending on the clients’ needs. Popular artistic mediums include drawing, painting, collage, colouring, or sculpting. Contrary to popular belief, art therapy is not an art lesson although creating art can be pleasant for the patient. Of course, clients do not need to have previous experience creating art.

Who can benefit from art therapy?

Art therapists work with anyone from children and young people to adults and the elderly. Clients may have a wide range of difficulties, disabilities or diagnoses. These include emotional, behavioural or mental health problems, learning or physical disabilities, life-limiting conditions, neurological conditions and physical illnesses. 

The benefits of art therapy are numerous and include helping people explore their emotions, improve self-esteem, manage addictions, relieve stress, improve anxiety and depression symptoms, and cope with physical illness or disability. 

Thanks to its ability to relieve stress and boost creativity, art therapy could be an effective tool to introduce into the workplace. 

Art therapy courses

Art therapy courses are available for prospective or current art therapists or for those who are curious about art therapy. Art therapy courses can also include the art therapy itself. 

Choose to take an art therapy course if one of the following applies to you:

  • You want to make an informed decision about an art therapy provider
  • You want to know what to expect in an art therapy course
  • You are thinking of entering the field of art therapy
  • You support someone with a mental health problem who attends art therapy
  • You wish to become certified as an art therapist

Art therapy courses are often practical and take place on-site, but can also be online distance courses that participants complete at their own pace.

What careers can art therapy courses lead to?

In the UK, art therapists can work in a variety of settings, such as NHS, social services, education, charities, prisons, private practice, etc. They may work with people of all ages and with a variety of mental, emotional or physical conditions.

It is therefore necessary that the art therapist be flexible and resourceful, both within and outside the classroom. Entrepreneurial skills can be a great addition to an art therapist’s repertoire, since many art therapists are self-employed. However, some art therapists do work in a partnership with other professionals in fields like mainstream education and in museums and galleries.

In order to work as an art therapist in the UK, you must have completed the art therapy trainings validated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and to be on the HCPC register. 

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