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What is arts psychotherapy

What is arts therapy?

Arts therapy is a safe, constructive way to express emotions, process trauma, gain self-awareness and self-esteem, develop interpersonal skills, recover from stress and stress-related illnesses, recover from addictions and self-destructive behaviour, enhance intellectual and physical skills, while receiving feedback in a positive and supportive manner. 


Arts therapy can help people to live life more happily, positively and creatively. It offers ways to explore and express emotions non-verbally and verbally. It enhances well-being and self-esteem, and provides a space for the client to be seen, and heard with compassion and respect.

arts psychotherapy?

What is the difference between arts psychotherapy

and arts therapy ?

Arts therapists usually use both arts as therapy and arts psychotherapy, depending on the needs of their clients, and on the situation.


Arts as therapy is based on the understanding that the act of making art is in itself healing, as it clears the mind and encourages well-being and self-expression.


Arts psychotherapy understands that when we make art, we are able to communicate emotions, symbols and relationships, which may otherwise be difficult to express.



How can I benefit?

How can I benefit from arts therapy?

  • Creative processes encourage self expression. Making art may enable you to work through, and recover from experiences and feelings that are difficult to verbalise.

  • Working creatively re-activates the pleasure centres in the brain. Creativity engages our senses and allows our brains to release dopamine, which enhances our mood, and feelings of wellbeing.

  • Creativity boosts our self-esteem and self-confidence, and promotes a sense of self-worth. This boost in self-confidence translates to other situations and settings in our everyday lives. 

  • Making art is a way to reduce physical and emotional stress and tension as it gives us an outlet for emotions and feelings.

  • Creativity involves the use of fine and gross motor movements, and this can aid recovery, development and learning. 

  • Arts therapy allows for self-reflection. By making art in a therapeutic environment we learn about ourselves and discover strengths and new skills. 

  •  Group arts therapy provides opportunities to engage with others in non-threatening ways. 

  • Arts therapy groups give us access to support systems in the community. They are a great way to meet others, and to share our experiences. These support systems can make us more resilient and help us to cope with stress or emotional difficulties. 

  • Creativity encourages healthy habits such as regular self-care and self-awareness.  

Do I need to be good at art
Do I need to be good at art to benefit?


You do not need any artistic experience, or special skill to benefit from arts therapy. Everyone can benefit from expressing themselves creatively. Adults and children can explore and express concerns or problems that might be difficult to verbalise though the process of arts psychotherapy.

who can benefit


Arts psychotherapy can benefit anyone who wants to live in a happier and more creative way.


It is especially good for those who suffer from:

  • low self-esteem

  • anxiety, stress and depression

  • grief and loss

  • immigration related stress

  • loneliness

  • communication and psycho-social problems

  • addictions and substance abuse

  • family and relationship problems

  • trauma

  • attachment disorders

  • eating disorders and body image disorders

Who can benefit?

What can I expect
What can I expect from my arts therapy sessions? 


Your first session will give you and your therapist the opportunity to form a better idea of the problems you wish to address. It will be the first step towards building the therapeutic relationship between you and your therapist. In this relationship you can expect to be supported and encouraged with compassion and care. Everything that you share is kept completely confidential.


Therapy is a completely non-judgemental environment, where you are safe. You will be encouraged to express yourself creatively and verbally. Your therapist will provide feedback and guidance, while working alongside you to reach an understanding of the issues which you might be facing. This process acknowledges that you are the expert on your life. 


Sessions usually involve talking, making art, and talking about what is being made. Art materials such as paint, crayons, pens, pencils, clay, paper, and collage are provided for you to explore and to make art.


As the therapy progresses, you will begin to gain a deeper understanding of the issues which have led you to seek therapy. You will be helped to explore your experiences, relationships, images and dreams in order to work towards your recovery, and to achieve your goals.

How long will it take?
How long will it take to feel the benefits of arts therapy?

The amount of time that you will spend in therapy will depend on your goals, your areas of concern, and the problems that you choose to address.


Some issues can be addressed in a few sessions, while others may take longer to resolve.


If you choose to focus on one issue, and find that the arts therapy has helped to bring resolution, you may decide to stop.


You may want to explore deeper, and more long standing issues, which means that you can choose to spend more time in arts therapy.


You may wish to have weekly or fortnightly sessions, as you may find it comforting to establish a regular routine for your sessions.


You are entitled to ask questions about the process, or to end the arts therapy process at any time. 


You will find it most beneficial if the ending of your therapy is planned. This will give you the opportunity to experience closure in a healthy and positive way.



What are the benefits of joining an arts therapy group?

  • Groups are safe and contained environments where you can learn more about yourself, while exploring ways to be more creative. 


  • Sharing your experiences and feelings can allow you to connect to others, to feel less isolated, and to raise your self-esteem.


  • Groups can help you to build interpersonal and social skills.


  • You can find inspiration and encouragement from others, while giving your support to fellow group members.


  • You can learn from the experience of others, while sharing your experiences.


  • You will be able to explore your relationship patterns in a safe and contained environment.


  • Group therapy can help you to understand how your experiences may have impacted on your personality and behaviour. This can help you to avoid repeating patterns and behaviours that are potentially damaging to you or to others.


  • Group therapy is a safe, supportive environment to explore your personal and social behaviour patterns.


  • You may share your feelings with the group and they may share theirs with you. This can encourage empathy and mutual support.


  • Groups encourage a sense of belonging, acceptance, and validation.


  • Group processes can encourage the development of a sense of responsibility.


  • Group members may experience a sense of catharsis, or relief, from guilt and shame when sharing their stories and creative processes.


  • Group processes encourage self-awareness and self-understanding. Interaction with group members provides opportunities to see how behaviour and thoughts can impact on others. 

How much does it cost?


Can I receive subsidised therapy?

Children and teens up to (and including) the age of 25 may be eligible for fully funded therapy through the I am Hope Gumboot Friday funding scheme.


Clients with sensitive claims (sexual abuse) are eligible for fully funded therapy through ACC.

WINZ (Work and Income New Zealand) subsidises counselling for beneficiaries and low income earners (including NZ Superannuitants and students) through the Disability Allowance. You can receive this Allowance if you meet income criteria, and your Doctor agrees that you need counselling. To check if you meet their current income criteria call 0800 559 009 or talk to your Case Manager. 


How much can I get?

The Disability Allowance is currently paid up to a maximum of $61.69 per week for adults to contribute to the cost of your counselling. It is added to your benefit and paid into your bank account. You are responsible for paying your counsellor.


What forms will I need?

You, your counsellor and doctor need to fill out the Disability Allowance Counselling Certificate. This form is available from your local WINZ office, or you could download the form here.


If you are already getting assistance from WINZ you will also need the Disability Allowance Application Form. You and your doctor need to fill this out. This form is available from your local WINZ office or you could download the form here. 


If you are not yet getting assistance from WINZ you will need the Extra Help Application Form. You and your doctor need to fill this out. This form is available from your local WINZ office or you could download the form here


Will my therapy be confidential?

What you choose to share with me during your therapy sessions will remain confidential.  As a registered arts therapist, I am obligated to keep the content of therapy sessions completely private.


There are some limits to confidentiality which may occur if I understand that you or someone else may be at risk of harm. If this occurs I would request your permission to speak to your G.P. I will only do this once I have consulted with you, and obtained your permission to communicate with another professional, and this will only be done to ensure your safety.


I attend regular, confidential clinical supervision, where I discuss my work with a registered supervisor. This is done to ensure that the standard of my practice remains at a high standard. In some circumstances courts can take legal action to demand access to clinical notes. This only happens on rare occasions.  

Client's rights

What are my rights as a client?

You have the right to receive information about the methods of therapy and the approaches that I use. You are also entitled to ask about the duration of therapy, but should understand that this can often not be predetermined.


You are entitled to seek a second opinion from another therapist, or to terminate your treatment at any time. 


In order to protect your confidentiality, and to ensure that you obtain the greatest benefit from your therapy, I do not initiate contact with you in public spaces, or communicate with you publically on social networking sites. I will only acknowledge, or greet you in public spaces, if you initiate the greeting first.


These boundaries will continue even after your therapy is terminated. This is an ethical obligation that benefits you, (as the client) by allowing me, (as your arts therapist), to serve you therapeutically, rather than as a friend.

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