Arts therapists are skilled at engaging hard-to-reach service users of all ages, regardless of their conditions. Outcomes can include improved social and communication skills, as well as increased confidence and self-esteem, enabling them to play a more integrated role in society.
What is art therapy?
According to BAAT (British Association of Art Therapy) Art Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art as its main mode of expression and communication to address emotional issues and thoughts which may be confusing and distressing.
What is it used for?
It is used to help support people facing bereavement and loss, depression, anxiety, personal development, self-harm, eating disorders, confidence building, among other mental health struggles.
Who is it for?
Art Therapists work with children, young people, adults, and the elderly. Art therapy is provided in groups or individually, depending on client’s needs.
Do I need to know how to draw?
No prior knowledge or skill is needed, just a willingness to try using the materials. Although the session can be enjoyable, it’s not a recreational activity or an art lesson about becoming a great artist, but about exploring your thoughts and emotions through art in the presence of a trained therapist.
How does it work?
The client attends weekly sessions for 6 weeks after which we evaluate and decide together if more sessions would be helpful. Art therapy focuses on the process of making art, whether it be shapes, squiggles, a picture, collage, fabric, clay rather than the finished product.
Your art is a vehicle for you to find your own meaning and its connections to your life. At times of trauma our brain can go into a state of paralysis or hyper alertness along with a sense of helplessness. Art, in the presence of a trained therapist, has the ability to reach beyond this state of unknowing where words are not enough, helping you to better understand and make sense of your emotions and your mental health.
I use a pluralistic approach which means I use a broad range of client-centered theories tailored according to the needs of the client.
What are the benefits?
“Art therapy can help you explore and give voice to feelings and emotions that are difficult to express in words. The benefits can extend well beyond therapy sessions.”
Val Huet, chief executive officer of BAAT
MSc Art Psychotherapy from UU, Art Psychotherapist, HCPC Registered, BAAT Full Membership
Margaret is a HCPC registered MSc Art Psychotherapist living in Belfast. Her approach is pluralistic, non-judgmental, and client-led drawing on a variety of theories and practices in response to the needs of the client. She also holds a BA Rel Sc, HdipEd and is a qualified General Nurse. She has worked with young people for over thirty years and has had experience in schools, community organisations, people affected by cancer and in Beechcroft (an inpatient facility for young people with mental health problems).