Frequently Asked Questions
Hi, My name is Kim Doherty and I am your local art therapist or art psychotherapist.
So; what exactly do I do? I wear a lot of different hats I am an art therapist, an advocate of the arts in general… but as an art therapist specifically, I am building a relationship with you (the client) through our presence together in the space and through the use of art materials. Art therapists are accredited through IACAT (Irish Association of Creative Arts Therapists) and art therapy is an allied mental health profession.
More recently our “therapeutic space” has moved online, there are some challenges to this type of engagement but generally the ability to reach someone and work creatively with them in their home is very rewarding.
“Accredited art therapists use art media and creative interventions to encourage self-expression and reflection within a therapeutic relationship. The aim is to improve mental health and maintain emotional well-being.” (IACAT 2020)
I also believe that art therapy not only helps one maintain positive mental health but it can promote resilience. It can help you connect with yourself, thrive and move forward with more peace and acceptance.
In art therapy specifically, I am building a relationship with you (the client) through our presence together in the space and through the use of art materials. Art therapists are accredited through IACAT Irish Association of Creative Arts Therapists, art therapy is considered an allied mental health profession. I am a member of IACAT.
Art therapy can help to reflect, respond to and assist in dealing with the unknown, Covid-19 has brought a lot of uncertainty, issues of loss, separation, anxiety and generally dealing with a totally new way of being in the world. We may not have words for this. Children especially are finding this ‘new normal’ challenging. Art Therapy and using art materials offers a great way into communicating what is happening for us all non-verbally. Children often lack the vocabulary to communicate how they are experiencing the world but they can communicate through image and play and they interact both with us and the materials.
Genuinely anyone! Even scribbling or doodling, something we often find ourselves doing helps us regulate, think, focus. What if you offered yourself the opportunity of 45 minutes – 1 hour to reflect, process or just be using art materials in the presence of someone holding you with unconditional positive regard?
Other options: Alternatively begin art journaling or join one of the online workshops; I encourage you to use art materials and a journal, you’d be surprised what you might learn about yourself, it may just be a calming experience or a way to de-clutter the brain.
The art therapist sets up the space, or agrees on the parameters of the online therapeutic engagement, establishing a safe space and working within a specific time boundary. Materials/ art media used in a session usually include a selection of pencils, pastels, paint, clay, collage, found or collected objects. These are available to support the person to express themselves in an image or otherwise. With the art therapist, the person might reflect on the image, or through their image-making explore their emotions, develop insight and make sense of difficult life experiences.
The art therapist holds a safe, confidential setting, and works in a non-judgemental way. Art therapy sessions are generally non-directive and person-led, though therapists may offer themes or directives. It can take place in an individual or a group context. (IACAT 2020)
As a therapist, I support the client in reflecting on or exploring what they have made, Through their images or their process they may find some insight. Depending on the needs of the client, their age or the setting, sessions usually last between 30 and 60 minutes. The therapist and the client agree on the schedule (weekly/fortnightly and the time) at the initial assessment. You don’t need to be good at art to participate, and no prior art experience is necessary.
While Art therapy can be used just about anywhere, art therapists work in hospitals, mental health settings, community mental health, psychiatry as well as older people’s settings, disability settings, community and voluntary settings, health care and social services. Some also work in education, in schools and in specific programmes. Many work in private practice.
I mentioned I wear a few different hats, through I deliver continuous professional to groups or organisations who might like to learn more about the tools of creative care or using arts.
Like other forms of psychotherapy and counselling and self-awareness, art therapy promotes personal growth and increase self-understanding. It can address a range of issues and concerns including self-esteem, loss, grief, the unknown, trauma, depression, stress, anxiety, addiction, eating disorders and relationship difficulties. Therapists undertake continuing professional development and regular clinical supervision.