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What is Art Therapy?


The profession of art therapy first emerged in 1946 in the United Kingdom,

before the National Health Service (NHS) was introduced. It was then

officially recognized by the Council for Professions Supplementary to

Medicine (CPSM), which led to state registration in 1991.

The profession is now regulated by the Health and Care Professions

Council (HCPC). Only individuals registered with HCPC are legally

allowed to practise as an art psychotherapist in the UK.

Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses visual art media

as its primary mode of communication. It is not dependent on

spoken language and can therefore be helpful to anyone who finds

it difficult to express their thoughts and feelings verbally. It aims

at exploring, through art making, the underlying thought processes and

conflicts causing emotional distress. Art therapy can be an outlet for

dealing with painful and troubled feelings giving you the opportunity to

express emotions such as fear, anxiety and stress.

In art therapy, there is no right or wrong way of making something or thinking

about what has been made.

Where do art psychotherapists/art therapists work?

Art therapists work in mental health hospitals, schools, community centres, refuge centres, prisons, rehabilitation centres, residential child care homes, elderly homes, nursing homes, hospices, etc.

Who can benefit?

Anyone who are willing to use art can benefit from art therapy. It is suitable for those seeking personal growth, as well as individuals with various childhood experience, beliefs, hopes, fears, disabilities or diagnoses, including emotional or mental health problems.

What can art therapy do?

Art therapy helps individuals see themselves as their true selves instead of any expectations given by roles, relationships, or society. The process will help you learn more about yourselves and understand how you become the way you are today. Your therapist will help you work through personal issues and improve overall well-being. It can bring a lot of benefits depending on clients’ needs. Its major benefits are:


  • greater self-awareness

  • lowered stress and anxiety

  • getting in touch with inner selves




1CASE, C. & DALLEY, T. (2014) The Handbook of Art Therapy. 3rd Edition. United Kingdom: Routledge

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