Making sense of arts therapies. arts therapies

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1 Making sense of arts therapies arts therapies

2 Making sense of arts therapies This information is for people who have been offered or are considering an arts therapy, and anyone interested in finding out more about arts therapies. It explains what arts therapies are, how they are regulated and how to find a therapist. Note: This booklet only covers regulated arts therapies. It does not cover therapeutic activities that are not regulated, such as writing or reading groups. It also does not cover doing arts informally to help with a mental health problem, if done without a therapist.

3 Contents What are arts therapies? 4 Who are arts therapies for? 5 What are the different arts therapies? 6 How are arts therapies regulated? 12 How can I find an arts therapist? 12 Useful contacts 13 3

4 Making sense of arts therapies What are arts therapies? Arts therapies are a way of using the arts for example, music, art, dance or drama in a therapeutic environment with a trained therapist. In arts therapy, your therapist helps you to express yourself by creating something such as a piece of music, a painting or a play. This can help you express your feelings, often without using words. When I couldn't talk without choking on my tears, the therapy gave me a voice and a way to express myself without having to talk. You do not need to have any special skill or previous experience of doing art, music, dance or drama to find an arts therapy helpful. The aim is not to produce a wonderful work of art, but to use your creations to understand yourself better. Your therapist will help you think about what you create and how it relates to your feelings and experiences. This can help you come to terms with any difficult feelings, events or memories that may be causing you problems. Many people find arts therapy can help them learn to deal with, and in some cases recover from, a mental health problem. After your session, you may discuss what you create with your therapist for example, talking about the thoughts and feelings that came up during the session and how you are feeling now. Or you may not find this helpful, and find that creating the art, music, dance or drama is enough therapy on its own. 4

5 Who are arts therapies for? Arts therapies are offered in a wide range of settings, including hospitals, residential care and day centres. They can be done in a group or one-toone. In a group, you are likely to get to know the other people quickly, and may find out a lot about them. You may find this helpful if you are isolated or find it difficult to get to know people. However, if you are a private person, or wish to work on issues you would not want to share with other people, you might find one-to-one sessions more useful. As with other types of therapy, your relationship with your therapist is very important, and you should feel comfortable sharing your feelings with them. (See How can I find an arts therapist? on p.12.) Who are arts therapies for? Arts therapies may be helpful for any kind of mental health problem, whatever your diagnosis. You may be offered an arts therapy as your main form of treatment, or in addition to other treatments, such as medication or a talking treatment. (See Mind s Making sense booklet series for more information about different types of treatments.) Arts therapies can be particularly helpful if: you feel distanced from your feelings you find it too upsetting to talk about painful experiences, and would therefore find it difficult to benefit from talking therapies, such as counselling or psychotherapy. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that arts therapies should be considered for everyone with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and related diagnoses, such as schizoaffective disorder. (See Useful contacts on p.13.) 5

6 Making sense of arts therapies What are the different arts therapies? This section describes the different arts therapies available. These all have recognised professional bodies and provide regulation and codes of practice for their members. Music therapy In music therapy, you communicate with your therapist through music. This could mean playing, singing or listening to music. If you are doing group music therapy, you may also use music to communicate with other people in the group. Music therapy can be helpful in several ways. For example: It can help you communicate difficult feelings and memories that you find too difficult to talk about in words. It can bring back old feelings and memories you thought you had forgotten, helping you deal with difficult things in your past and move on. It can help you get used to expressing yourself, which can then help you write or talk about your feelings more easily. Your therapist can use music to communicate with you, even if you are not consciously listening. This may be helpful if you find it very hard to communicate with other people, and may help you feel more able to engage with other people over time. Music therapy usually uses percussion or simple melodic instruments that you can play, even if you don t have any experience of playing or reading music. For example: drums cymbals wood blocks maracas bells xylophones chime bars simple harps. 6

7 What are the different arts therapies? If you play an instrument, you may also be able to use that in your sessions. In music therapy, you might improvise music (make up your own piece of music) or play specific pieces of music that you can practise and develop over time. The music you play may cover a wide range of styles depending on your taste, musical experience and the needs and tastes of other people in the group. During a session, your therapist will listen to the music you create, and use it to try and understand how you are feeling. They will then respond to this by playing their own music, and use this to try and make positive changes to how you feel. They will also help you use music to explore your feelings and think about how you relate to other people, if you are working in a group. Dance movement therapy Dance movement therapy (or dance therapy) uses dance and movement to help you express how you are feeling. It may help you to become more aware of emotions that you find it hard to talk about, and feel more comfortable with your body. By exploring difficult issues or experiences in your past, it can also help you deal with these and move on. Dance therapy can be particularly helpful if: you have negative feelings about your body for example, if you have a mental health problem related to your appearance, such as an eating problem or body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) your emotional problems come out as physical illnesses for example, if you have depression, you may experience physical pain as part of this you find physical contact with other people difficult you feel detached or disconnected from your surroundings, or out-oftouch with everyday life 7

8 Making sense of arts therapies you are taking medication that affects the way you move for example, if you are taking antipsychotics and the side effects make you stiff or slow (see Mind s booklet Making sense of antipsychotics) you have been physically or sexually abused, or experienced trauma, and this affects how you feel about your body or the way you hold yourself and move. In a dance therapy session, your therapist watches the way you move in order to understand more about how you are feeling, and helps you express yourself through your movements. Your therapist may also move with you or copy the way you move to help them understand more about how you are feeling. Your therapist may also encourage you to change your movements to help change the way you feel. For example, if you are feeling low or depressed, you may hunch your shoulders and appear smaller than you are. Your therapist may then encourage you to reach up and out, and stand more upright, to help you feel more self-confident. It s a good idea to wear loose, comfortable clothes and light, flat shoes or bare feet when doing dance movement therapy, so you feel comfortable when you are moving around. Dramatherapy Drama helps me keep in touch with all of the emotions that I haven't necessarily been able to feel or express. Dramatherapy is a form of therapy that uses theatre and drama. It is usually used in groups, but may also be offered on a one-to-one basis. 8

9 What are the different arts therapies? In dramatherapy, you may use a range of different techniques. For example: improvisation making up short plays or sketches role play acting the part of a particular person in a specific situation, such as a parent or child mime acting without using words movement using your body to express yourself rhythm for example, using different rhythms in your speech to help improve your control of the way you express yourself speech using your voice in ways that you otherwise find difficult, such as shouting or whispering acting out replaying behaviour that has caused you problems in the past, to help you to learn to do things differently, or replaying a situation you found difficult. However, you don t have to act in dramatherapy. You can also be involved in other parts of theatre, such as: being the director or producer doing the lighting creating scenery, costume or props you may make these out of materials or use your body to become the scenery or props yourself being the audience this can be particularly helpful if you are feeling overwhelmed or want some space without having to leave the group. Dramatherapy can help in several different ways: Expressing how you feel in drama can help you learn to put difficult experiences behind you. Using stories, imagery or symbols in drama allows you to explore difficult or painful things that have happened to you from a safe distance, without having to repeat the details of your own story. It can help you explore and understand your relationships with other people, and may help you address any problems. For example, if you feel that other people have a lot of power over you, you can practise being in control, saying what you want and saying no. 9

10 Making sense of arts therapies During a session, you may use or adapt existing stories or scripts. Or you may improvise (make up) sketches or plays. You may act out a situation that has really happened, or make up a new one, to help you understand your feelings and relationships better. A story or script might only be used once, or it may be used over several sessions to help develop understanding over time. Art therapy Art therapy uses painting, clay and other types of art to help you get in touch with your feelings and express yourself. The art you make can also help your therapist understand more about your feelings and what may be causing them, and help you learn how to deal with them. I found the sessions really helpful and was able to explore difficult emotions without having to talk out loud straight away. I was given time to explore my thoughts in a supportive environment. Because art therapy involves using physical materials, it can also help you feel more connected to the world around you. The different materials you use in your art can be helpful in different ways. For example: Objects such as stones, pieces of driftwood or bark may help you reconnect with nature and help you feel closer to the world around you. Objects you find may remind you of experiences you have had and help you express and explore your feelings around them. Clay can be useful if you find using colour difficult for example, if you are experiencing a manic episode, colours may be too stimulating and make your mania worse. 10

11 What are the different arts therapies? Clay could help you move on from difficult feelings and experiences, as the shape of clay is easily changed and transformed to show changes in your emotions or circumstances. Using a camera may help you to connect with the present moment it creates an instant picture, but at the same time keeps you separate from what you are photographing, as you see it through a camera screen or lens. Taking photos can help you deal with past experiences, as you think about how the things you choose to photograph might be connected with memories and emotions in your past. Using clay to sculpt my family was really revealing I thought I knew what the problems were and whose fault it was, but my perspective changed. It helped me start understanding my family dynamics better and move on from being stuck in them. During a session, you or your therapist may decide what type of things you might create, or you might use music, poetry or a story to give you some ideas. As part of your therapy, you may display your artwork in an exhibition. This can help you accept your emotions and feel more accepted by others, because your experiences are presented in a way that is easier for other people to understand. This may be particularly useful if you have felt alienated or different from mainstream society. Many people find that framing their art is also a helpful part of therapy. For example, a frame may represent a boundary that contains the emotions in a picture and makes them safe. Or you might let your picture spill over the frame so it represents a form of breakthrough. If you go to art therapy sessions over a period of time, the art you create can also be a useful reminder of your progress and recovery. 11

12 Making sense of arts therapies How are arts therapies regulated? All of the arts therapies in this booklet have their own professional organisation (see Useful contacts on p.13). These organisations have a professional code of practice (explaining how therapists should behave) and can provide a register of trained therapists. Art psychotherapists, art therapists, dramatherapists and music therapists must also be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). (See Useful contacts on p.13.) Before you start therapy, check with your therapist that they are registered with one of these organisations. How can I find an arts therapist? In some areas, you may be able to access an arts therapy on the NHS as part of a mental health service, either in the community or as part of the treatment provided if you have to spend time in hospital. However, this varies from area to area. Your GP or community mental health team (CMHT) should be able to tell you what s available in your area and may be able to refer you to a local service. Voluntary organisations, such as a local Mind or an arts therapy charity, may also offer arts therapy groups. Contact Mind Infoline, search online or check your local library to find out what is available in your area. (See Useful contacts on p.13.) You can also access arts therapies privately, although this can be expensive. Private therapists may offer one-to-one or group sessions group therapy may be more affordable because everyone shares the cost. You can find details of accredited therapists in your area by checking the register of the relevant professional organisation. (See Useful contacts on p.13.) 12

13 Useful contacts Useful contacts Association for Dance Movement Psychotherapy UK (ADMP UK) tel: web: admt.org.uk Maintains a directory of dance movement therapists. British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT) tel: web: baat.org Information about arts therapies and a directory of arts therapists. British Association of Dramatherapists (BADth) tel: web: badth.org.uk Information about dramatherapy and a list of accredited dramatherapists. British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT) tel: web: bamt.org Information on music therapy in the UK. Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) tel: web: hpc-uk.org Regulates arts therapists, including art psychotherapists, art therapists, drama and movement therapists and music therapists. Nordoff Robbins tel: web: nordoff-robbins.org.uk Provides music therapy sessions to children and adults with a range of conditions. Roundabout tel: web: roundaboutdramatherapy.org.uk Charity that conducts long- and short-term dramatherapy projects with a range of clients. Sesame Institute tel: web: sesame-institute.org Provides drama and movement therapy and a list of therapists. 13

14 Further information Mind offers a range of mental health information on: diagnoses treatments practical help for wellbeing mental health legislation where to get help To read or print Mind's information booklets for free, visit mind.org.uk or contact Mind Infoline on or at To buy copies of Mind's information booklets, visit mind.org.uk/shop or phone or Support Mind Providing information costs money. We really value donations, which enable us to get our information to more people who need it. Just 5 could help another 15 people in need receive essential practical information booklets. If you found the information in this booklet helpful and would like to support our work with a donation, please contact us on: tel: web: mind.org.uk/donate This information was written by Katherine Darton Published by Mind 2013 Mind 2013 To be revised 2016 ISBN No reproduction without permission Mind is a registered charity No Mind (National Association for Mental Health) Broadway London E15 4BQ tel: fax: web: mind.org.uk

15 Mind We're Mind, the mental health charity for England and Wales. We believe no one should have to face a mental health problem alone. We're here for you. Today. Now. We're on your doorstep, on the end of a phone or online. Whether you're stressed, depressed or in crisis. We'll listen, give you advice, support and fight your corner. And we'll push for a better deal and respect for everyone experiencing a mental health problem. Mind Infoline: mind.org.uk

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