Frequently asked questions
Summary of questions below:
What is Art Therapy?
- Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses a mix of talking and art making. I can also incorporate nature-based mindfulness activities if this is something that interests you.
- You do not need to be good at art to do art therapy. Art therapy is not an art class. The aim is to explore your creativity and use this as a way to express and explore emotions and life issues.
- You may talk about your personal problems, your artwork and your feelings and thoughts. The aim is for us to work together, using the art to creatively explore what is happening for you personally. Sometimes this can be very moving, or even upsetting for a while at first. I have extensive training and experience in working with people’s problems and distress.
Do I have to be 'good' at art to do art therapy?
No! No prior artistic experience or 'tallent' is necessary.
Art therapy is about tapping into your innate creativity, which we all have but often neglect. The way we use art in the sessions is as a form of creative emotional expression. It's not about creating masterpieces, and it's not an art class.
My aim is for you to feel supported in a non-judgemental way, and for you to explore your playful creativity if you wish. There is no pressure to make art, but it can be a useful tool where words fail and bring unconscious aspects of ourselves to the surface.
Do I need to buy expensive art materials?
No. Absolutely not. Your creative participation is invited using whatever you have to hand. This may be pencil and paper, junk from your recycling bin, old magazines, photographs you've taken of your favourite spot in nature, or fallen leaves, sticks, mud, flowers, stones, feathers collected from your daily walks. Whatever you feel drawn to use.
The benefits of art therapy:
There are many benefits and different people will have different experiences. These are some of the more general impacts:
- Increasing resilience and wellbeing.
- Reducing stress and create new lifestyle habits.
- Fostering self-expression – enabling connection.
- Alleviating depression and anxiety.
- Building self-esteem.
- Addressing trauma using visual communication to slowly begin to express feelings about traumatic events, then hopefully taking steps to move forward.
See this link for infographics, written reports, videos and podcasts on the arts and health:
What is Nature-based Art Therapy?
Nature-based art therapy offers some unique additional elements. Inviting you to listen to your body and the rhythm of the natural cycles. Your creative participation will be invited using whatever you have to hand. This may be pencil and paper, junk from your recycling, old magazines, or fallen leaves, sticks, mud, feathers collected from your daily walks. Whatever you feel drawn to use.
(See below for the benefits of nature connection).
What is Nature-based mindfulness?
I often incorporate nature-based mindfulness techniques which can be useful tools for self-care - grounding, calming, soothing, uplifting and focusing our presence in the moment. Mindfulness involves optimising your awareness of yourself and your surroundings in the present. This is done through gentle breathwork, body scans, and expanding our senses which works really well outdoors i.e. listening to birdsong, feeling the sun or wind on our skin, touching the bark of trees or softness of moss etc (safely and within Covid guidelines).
Benefits of nature connection:
- Many of us have discovered the mental and physical benefits of time in nature over the last year. It can be soothing for the nervous system, easing stress and anxiety, or uplifting and restorative i.e. birdsong and the vastness and majesty of the sky.
- Deepening connection to nature can increase empathy, joy of being, and presence in the moment. It can also help us connect to ourselves and others.
- Exploring our connection to the natural world and its rhythms can lead us into greater wholeness. A feeling of being held within something much bigger than our individual selves and our relatively fleeting lifespan's.
- Spending time outdoors throughout the year, watching and feeling seasons change, can develop a level of intimacy with the environment which we have sadly lost in our modern age.
- We can often feel inexplicably ''at home'' and comforted by time outside. We evolved to exist in the natural landscape, and our physical evolution has not had enough time to catch up with our technological and cultural evolution.
- Nature-connection invites you to listen to your body and the rhythm of the natural cycles, helping anchor us amongst challenging circumstances. Coming into balance with natural rhythms cycles, and a slower pace.
What is the evidence base for Ecotherapy?
As Ecotherapy becomes more mainstream, there is a growing body of evidence supporting the multiple mental, emotional and physical benefits of spending time in nature that many of us experience first hand. For example, a recent report by the national mental health charity Mind, and Derby University has a research department dedicated to nature connection. See Resources section for more links, including book recommendations i.e. Nature-Deficit Disorder.
What will we focus on in sessions?
The sessions are time for you, space to breathe, to connect to your body, your inner world, and make sense of the world we are now inhabiting.
It is rare to have a confidential space to explore ourselves and our concerns, and perhaps this is even more rare lately with lockdown and spending more time at home.
We can explore whatever you wish, reflect on the past, where you're at now, and hopes for the future. Integrating these insights and self-acceptance into a more resilient version of yourself.
How will sessions be structured?
We can go at your pace. This is your space for you, so please feel free to shape it as you wish/need.
Sessions are client-led and can be as verbal or non-verbal as you wish. You are welcome to have the video off or use the chat function sometimes too. Whatever helps you feel comfortable. We are all struggling with an excess of screen-time at present.
We could begin by checking in with eachother verbally or using the text function on Zoom, then do some art-making (I might do some too). Perhaps we'll chat a bit during the art making process if you want to / if things come up for you. Then we can look at the art together on-screen and see where that leads us.
How do online sessions work?
It might seem counter-intuitive to incorporate art and nature online. I honestly wasn't sure it would work myself, pre-lockdown I had never contemplated working online. However, I found it is surprisingly easy and effective, and have had positive feedback thusfar.
I usually lead activities with people sat by a window. Wherever you are whether it's urban or rural windows offer us at least the vastness of the sky and weather to wonder at. We can also do little outdoor excursions online together if outside space and internet data is accessible to you.
You will need connection to the internet and somewhere where you feel comfortable and won't be disturbed (as much as is possible).
Additional information for online sessions:
Your first session (in-person or online) will be free of charge, so you can see how it all works.
Zoom sessions will not be recorded (the recording feature on Zoom will be disabled).
Please endeavour to find a space where you can be undisturbed.
Art materials do not need to be expensive, pen and paper will do. Natural materials gathered on walks can also be added if you wish to explore nature in our work together.
If at any point you wish to end sessions it is advisable to give your therapist some notice so that we can have a good, planned ending over several sessions.
Therapist's professional obligations:
I am registered with HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council) and am a member of BAAT (British Association of Art Therapists).
I have regular supervision in allignment with professional requirements.
Data including clinical notes and images will be stored securely and deleted three years after sessions end, as per professional and statutory guidelines.
I am registered with the Information Commission to comply with GDPR.
Safeguarding and confidentiality:
Whilst most things are kept confidential between client and therapist (and their supervisor) confidentiality is not an absolute concept. Art Therapists have a professional duty of care to their clients which must sometimes override confidentiality, especially if there are concerns about the safeguarding and wellbeing of clients or risk to others.
Whilst information obtained from clients in conversation or through their artistic expression must be treated respectfully and professionally, confidentiality is held within a treatment team which in this case comprises of Kim Harrison and her supervisor. Art Therapists discuss clients with their supervisor confidentially in accordance with professional regulations.
Disclosure or sharing of information may be considered necessary by the therapist, and the client may also request it.
The law requires art therapists to disclose information where they are concerned about the safety of the client, the therapist, those caring for the client, or the public.
In such cases disclosure must be made in the manner which best protects the client's interests. The client will usually be informed before this happens, unless doing so could increase the risk to themselves or others.
Can I stop taking my prescription medication? Will art therapy replace it?
If you have a medical or psychiatric diagnoses and are on medication for this, please do not stop taking your medication without consulting your GP or consultant. Art Therapy can be a useful addition to primary medical care but cannot replace it.
Sessions will last one hour and be held via Zoom (an online video conferencing platform - it is possible to open a free account here. It can be used on smartphone, tablet or computer. There is an option to turn video off if this helps you feel more comfortable at any point). Times must be adhered to strictly.
Do you offer concessions?
Yes concessionary rates are available to students and people in receipt of benefits. This is self-identified, no proof is required, it is done on trust. Please contact me for details.
Holidays can be mutually agreed between client and therapist by email, with 4 weeks notice if possible.
There will always be a scheduled holiday break over Christmas/new year for 2 weeks following academic holiday dates.
Cancellation of single sessions must be in writing by email (email@example.com).
Cancellation by the client within 72 hours of the appointment date will incur a 50% charge.
Cancellation by the client within less than 24 hours of the appointment will be charged at full rate.
If I have to cancel a session for any reason there will be no charge to you and I will endeavour to give you at least 3 days notice.
Please inform me if you wish to end therapy with at least 3 weeks notice so that we can have a well-managed, therapeutic ending.