Guest blog: Art Therapy


Guest blog: Art Therapy

We love sharing the views of our young people, staff and volunteers, so this month we have a special guest blog – we’ll hear from Rachel, who is a trainee art therapist, and has been doing art-based one-to-one sessions with some of our young people:

Introducing Rachel…

For years, all I’ve wanted to be is an art therapist! Art therapy is a type of therapy where people can use art materials and pictures as a primary mode of expression to communicate and express their feelings. It can provide a way to explore difficult and confusing feelings, encouraging self-awareness and personal growth. It can reduce distress and improve social, emotional and mental health by promoting insight, self-compassion, self-worth and a sense of agency (British Association of Art Therapists, 2023). As an artist, I could see how beneficial art therapy (sometimes called art psychotherapy) could be of help to all sorts of people.

Becoming an art therapist

Art therapists need to have an approved Masters degree and be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), so I had great fun reading Fine Art at Hereford College of Arts, achieving first class honours, before enrolling at The University of South Wales for a Masters in Art Psychotherapy. I’ve learnt so much during the last two years, about safely supporting people and helping them to identify and process complex and difficult thoughts and feelings using the art materials. Sometimes it can be hard to talk about things, and the art materials provide an alternative way to externalise complex issues, or start a conversation, although talking isn’t always the priority as so much can be said through the artwork.

Some people feel a bit nervous about using the art materials to start with, or they tell me that they’re not ‘good at art’. The great news is, you really don’t need to be good at art to do art therapy, because It’s different from an art lesson or art class as it’s more about the process of expressing feelings though art rather than making a finished image.

What’s it like in an art therapy session?

Sessions take place in a private room, perhaps in a school, where there will be no interruptions, or sometimes online in a quiet space. Just like talking therapy, the artwork is just as confidential as the conversation, so the artwork is stored safely until we want to look through it together during a review, or if you would like to take it home. We might talk and make some art, or we might just make art if you prefer.

You would choose whichever art materials you’d like to use (in my art therapy trolley I usually have different types of paint, pencils, charcoal, coloured pencils, coloured paper, found objects, natural objects, glue, tape, and sometimes slime!) and although we may talk about themes or prompts, you choose what to make, or sometimes things just become what they become as you make it! We might talk and think together about any thoughts and feelings that come up when you make the artwork or look at it afterwards.

I’m really enjoying my time at Hope Support. The Hope team have been so friendly and welcoming, and it’s wonderful to be working alongside them to help add to the support they can provide for the amazing young people.

Hope Support Services

Overross House
Ross Park

UK Registered Charity 1135680

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