What is art therapy?

Art therapy is an established form of psychological therapy delivered by trained art therapists / art psychotherapists. It’s designed to help anyone, including those whose life has been affected by adverse experiences, illness or disability, by supporting their social, emotional and mental health needs.

Teenager in art therapy session

Why is art therapy needed?

Art therapy participants use art to express their experiences, to find the words to articulate how they have been affected, and to support their wellbeing, and any social, emotional and mental health needs. 

When our lives are affected by adversity, it can have an impact on our wellbeing – but this experience may be difficult to put into words. Because of this, art therapists are often able to work with people who have not been able to access talking therapies. In this way, art therapy helps to ensure that no one is left behind. 

Who is art therapy suitable for?

Art therapy can be used by anyone of any cultural background and age (infants and parents, children, young people, adults and older people). Participants are usually interested in what creativity and imagination can offer, but do not need any previous experience in making art.

How is art therapy regulated?

To practise as an art therapist or art psychotherapist in the UK, it is a legal requirement to complete a training course validated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The HCPC also maintains a register of qualified art therapists.

Frequently asked questions

I had so much benefit… real lasting benefits that I’ve been able to carry on with on my own, like a new way of doing things and different methods of coping. I think I got more from it than I ever thought possible.

Service user, Creative Therapies Service, Exeter

Also of interest

What to expect when you start art therapy

An overview of what you'll experience when starting art therapy.

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How can I access art therapy?

A guide to where you can find art therapy services.

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What to do if you're not feeling okay

Steps you can take to find help when you're feeling down.

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