Reflecting on my "Art therapy workshops".
I have been working with adults with learning disabilities, mental health diagnoses and addictions for many years, having previously taught art to children and adults with challenging behaviour. My training includes an NVQ level 3 in Health and Social Care as well as a foundation course in Art as a Therapy with BAAT (British Association of Art Therapists).
Through running freelance art therapy workshops I have given clients the opportunity to tell their story, express themselves and their feelings, improve their
self-esteem and find solutions to what have been, quite often, old problems.
Making images means alternating between being very involved with those images and standing back. This can help people begin to recognize and make sense of different feelings. For people with limited communication skills, art workshops can provide an opportunity to express what may have previously been inexpressible.
I offer individual or group Art Workshops in
blocks of sessions to be agreed in discussion.
A review is held after each block to see if the
clients' needs have been met, and a decision
is made, together with the client, as to
whether or not it is appropriate to offer him or
her another block of sessions.
The Art workshop leader provides a safe
environment with consistent boundaries
within which the client feels supported to
address the concerns that have brought
him/her to the workshops.
Sessions take place in the same place
each week if possible. Privacy within the
space is essential. Any information that is
disclosed within sessions remains confidential,
shared with relevant professionals only.
A range of 2-D and 3-D art materials are usually
available for clients to use in sessions.
Individual sessions last for up to 1 hour. Group sessions
last for 1½ hours. Up to 8 people constitute a
group ( depending on the overall needs of the group).
Once a group has commenced, it becomes closed to
The Art workshop leader keeps weekly session
notes, and provides written, electronic and verbal reports
at agreed review dates. Clients are provided with
a folder to store their artworks. Artwork remains the
property of the client but it is useful to keep the work
together in the art room for the duration of the session
to keep it safe and confidential, and to reflect on
throughout the process.
The client's perception of their artwork being valued
and securely contained within the art room is often
crucial to development of a trusting relationship.
The focus in Art workshops is not on the technical or
aesthetic merits of the artwork but upon valuing the client's
use of the art materials in a form that is personally
meaningful to them. Making symbolic and metaphoric
associations with the images can often reveal alternate
ways of looking at what is trying to be communicated.
Body language, behaviour, facial expressions,
tone and speed of voice, and periods of silence are
as important factors in communication as words. The
Art workshop leader acts intuitively upon the evidence
being presented by the client, as
well as making possible associations with the artwork
and use of materials. The Art workshop leader remains
aware of exchanges within the therapeutic relationship,
and between members of the group.
She/he needs to listen, mediate and intervene where
necessary to clarify and/or facilitate dialogue between
clients, and to offer support.
The Art workshop leader frequently works with a co facilitator,
who plays an important role in supporting
the Art workshop leader in all of her/his roles. As an
observer the co-facilitator may see things from a different
perspective, providing insight as to what future
interventions may be helpful within the group. They
may assist in time keeping and maintaining boundaries,
especially if the workshop leader is required to
attend to other issues that arise in the group.
(All the pictures displayed in this section are examples of clients' art work)
All the images © Piero Bortoli 2023. All rights reserved.