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West London NHS Trust > Patients and carers > Treatments and medication > Art therapy

Art therapy

Art therapy enables a person to communicate the way they are feeling through the art they produce.

They don’t have to have any artistic skills to do this. The emotions expressed in an artwork can reveal things about a person, including issues to do with their mental health, that a trained art therapist or psychologist can help address.

The aim is to develop a person’s insight into their personality in terms of realising their strengths and understanding how their behaviour may be preventing them from coping with everyday life. Then, with the support of an art therapist, they can look at setting achievable goals towards overcoming the ways that their mental illness may have affected their ability to work, study, develop relationships or participate in society.

Expressing suppressed emotions

Art therapy is a powerful way of focusing on the whole person, not just the symptoms of a person’s mental illness. It encourages a person to express themselves freely, creating images or objects that reflect suppressed emotions. Talking about an artwork with a therapist can help a person understand the issues that arise, and gain greater control over aspects of their life.

Benefits for all ages

People of all ages with emotional and psychological disorders can benefit from art therapy. Combining the benefits of talking treatments with the psychological aspects of the creative process can help a person to cope better with stress and work through traumatic experiences.

Increased insight

By concentrating on expressing images that come from inside a person rather than what they see in the world around them, art therapy gives a person increased insight into thoughts and feelings, helping them to see things with a new perspective. This insight offers hope to a person as they discover a sense of their personal identity separate from their mental illness.

Art therapy at West London NHS Trust

At West London NHS Trust, art therapy is used to help people communicate when they find it difficult to say how they feel. In a safe environment, creating the art is in itself therapeutic. The art materials used could be paint, clay or chalks depending on a person’s needs and their suitability for achieving treatment objectives.

Working in an equal partnership with an art therapist, a person’s wishes and feelings are always respected with the therapy reflecting their needs and personal preferences.