What is art therapy? - Video

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What is art therapy? (Video file)

What is art therapy?

Neil Springham, Head of Art Therapy at Oxleas, answers questions about what art therapy is and how it can help people.

What is art therapy?

Could you explain what art therapy actually is?

Art therapy is where you sit with the therapist and make pictures. Generally the therapist doesn’t make pictures. The therapist is there to help you think about what those pictures might mean. The pictures don’t have fixed meanings. We don’t work from a book that says red means this and black means that. What’s really important is what you think they mean and the therapist helps you to discuss that and help you think how you might move forward with your difficulties.

What is the therapy part of art therapy?

 I think the therapy part of art therapy is partly in the art. It’s just by putting things into artwork makes them feel more manageable and that helps them to understand. But in addition to that it gives them a chance to discuss with the therapist what they are thinking about and what comes up in the image. There are two parts to it really and they are equally as important.

How can what I draw, tell you what is going on with me?

What people draw in art therapy is really up to them and what’s really interesting is what they draw is normally extremely relevant to what they need to think about and talk about in therapy.

Does it matter if you can’t draw?

No, it doesn’t really help to be able to draw or paint and you don’t need to have any artistic skill at all. In fact it’s really good if you come to it fresh and have not done much at all.

How long does treatment last?

Treatment can last from 6 weeks up to two years and that’s something we would be able to talk to you about and for you to be ok with.

Is it suitable for any problem?

Yes. Art therapy is suitable for any type of problem because the art is a very helpful language and sometimes it helps people who aren’t used to speaking, to find ways of talking about what’s going on.

Will it be one to one or in a group?

The art therapy can be one to one but very often it’s a group setting because you get a lot of valuable feedback from members of a group and normally the people in the group have had similar experiences to you so what they say is very, very valuable.

Will it be confidential?

Yes. The art therapy is confidential. It is confidential to the team so if you have been referred by someone we will talk to that person about what has been going on, but what we talk about won’t go to anyone else and we won’t show your pictures to anyone else.

What is the purpose of doing art therapy as opposed to other therapies?

I think the purpose of doing art therapy is where you have issues which are difficult to put into words. Sometimes words are just not enough and actually for centuries people have used art as a way of expressing things that are difficult  and that is what art therapy is trying to tap into. Sometimes it’s through making images or making things that you can express things that you can’t put into words.