Arts therapies


What are the arts therapies?


The need for the arts is a defining human characteristic.  The arts have a unique power to help us all in our ability to feel, make sense of the world and express ourselves.

When someone is experiencing difficulties with their mental health, the arts can offer new ways to explore what’s going on for them and gain new insight and confidence.  Arts therapy professionals have spent over seventy years developing research, theory and practice to understand the therapeutic potential of the arts.

Who are arts therapists?

Arts therapists are qualified professionals registered with the Health Care Professions Council, who have a specialism in art, drama or music therapy.  All arts therapists are dual trained in both their specified art form and in psychological therapy to a masters degree level.  They engage in regular supervision to ensure their work is of the highest standard.

Arts therapists work within the NHS psychotherapy services, education, community settings, prisons and hcpcin private practice.  Arts therapy can be for individuals or groups.


Why arts therapy?

p1020345One of the strong advantages of an arts therapy approach is the containing aspect of the arts medium when experienced in a safe and supportive therapeutic relationship.  This provides the possibility of working through difficult or painful material in a more bearable and symbolic way.

The client can proceed at his or her own pace using the creative process as a means of personal expression, identifying and connecting emotions and making sense of experience and things that are hard to name or say in words.

What happens in an arts therapy session?

youth-arts-health-trust-grw-photography3When you begin working with your arts therapist, you will work out an agreement to check there is an understanding about how you would like to work together, and the number of sessions you would like.  One to one sessions are normally one hour and groups usually 1.5 hours.  In arts therapy sessions you can talk about what’s on your mind as well as take up invitations to work with art materials, drama exercises, musical instruments or other creative approaches.  No previous experience of creative arts is needed.

A session will usually begin with a check-in to ask how you are, this then often leads to a discussion or a theme which can then be explored through doing something creative (like painting, writing a story, or selecting small figures or images to represent something).  A session normally ends with some time for reflection and this can be when new insights are developed.  Arts therapists are trained to follow the needs, ideas and aspirations of clients so you feel in control of the pace and content of what you explore.

What we offer

IMG_20151027_120916The Youth Arts & Health Trust offers both group and individual arts therapy sessions. You can apply by completing a referral form which can be requested on the apply for arts therapy page.  When we receive a referral form, we will contact you and/or the referrer to discuss your needs and agree together what will be most suitable at this time.  You may be invited in to meet one of the team, see an arts therapy room and find out more.

In the near future we are hoping to offer new arts therapy groups for young people experiencing anxiety and depression, a group for young people caring for a parent or sibling with mental health problems, as well as a group for those with worries about body image and/or eating disorders.  We are always interested in your ideas for new groups.

What can arts therapy help with?

Similar to counselling or other kinds of psychotherapy, arts therapy can help people to improve their mental health and wellbeing.  People often come to arts therapy because they want to feel better in themselves and more confident about their next steps in life.  This might be because of depression or anxiety, and/or because of specific things you would like to understand and control like self-harming or an eating disorder.  Some people come to arts therapy because they would like to tell their story and process what has happened in life in a safe space with someone they can trust, this could be because of trauma, abuse or life events.   Arts therapy can be a really helpful space to better cope with changes in life like bereavement, family breakdown and other times of transition.

What does it cost?

As a charitable organisation we endeavour to offer substantial reductions to our standard fees when we can dependent on personal circumstance.  You can complete the affordability section on the referral form to apply for discounted rates. Individual arts therapy costs £50-£70 a session and group sessions cost £15-£25 per person. When we have funding available, those on lower incomes can expect to be asked to make a donation of £5-£10 per session or to access our service for no cost.

NOVEMBER 2020 LATEST NEWS:  We have recently received grants from the the Government’s Coronavirus Community Support Fund, the European Social Fund, Devon Community Foundation, the Lottery Community Fund and Children in Need amongst others.  Thanks to this support we are currently offering some fully funded or reduced rate places on our arts therapy programmes. These range from age 5 right up to 25.

We are offering predominantly online arts therapy sessions at this time, with some face to face sessions within our newly refurbished and more Covid-secure larger therapy room.

Who can refer and book arts therapy for a young person?

We encourage referral forms to be completed with the child or young person and by a health care professional, GP, social worker, support provider or parent/carer.  Young people can also self-refer.  We will consider all referrals.  Click here to make an initial enquiry now.


“I liked the way in the session I didn’t need to feel the pressure to talk about things if I didn’t want to yet.  It was an outlet and a way of putting my feelings down on paper for me and looking back – I so needed that space.”

“At first I was worried it wasn’t for me as I wasn’t very good at art or drama at school, but then I realised that it wasn’t about making beautiful art or anything, it’s more about a new way of expressing my thoughts and feelings.”

“I was able to articulate about my eating disorder for the first time.”

“I can see things differently now.  I feel more optimistic about the future.”

Arts therapy participants, 2013-20.

Please call or email us if you would like any more information or to discuss a referral.

01392 975104 and please leave a message for us to get back to you.