Susie Parry. art therapy

Art therapy


Arts therapy may be defined as using various art forms and creative processes such as drawing, painting, sculpture, collage, photography and computer art as well as drama and movement for self expression and reflection in a therapeutic setting. Art therapy may improve and enhance physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. It is suitable for all ages and many life situations, and can be practiced with individuals or groups. Arts therapy works by accessing imagination and creativity which generates new models of living and it can contribute towards the development of a more integrated sense of self, with increased self awareness and acceptance.

Approaches to art therapy:

Art therapy will vary depending upon the experience and theoretical perspectives of the art therapist, the individual receiving art therapy and the goal of the art therapy.

Many therapists integrate two approaches:

  1. Art as therapy – the focus is placed on the creative process, the product and artistic qualities and where discussion mainly pertains to instructions about the use of the media.
  2. Art in therapy – the emphasis is placed on the creation of an image, rather than an end product. This provides the individual and therapist with a concrete form through which both may engage and develop an interpersonal relationship, with clear goals.

I use the second approach “Art in Therapy” and will integrate the two depending on the situation and goals of the individual.


From the beginning I have practiced art therapy in the field of palliative care and working with children, adolescents and adults recovering from cancer. My own personal experience of being diagnosed with cancer and undergoing subsequent treatments sparked my interest in art therapy and deepened my motivation and commitment to work as an art therapist.

I work with children, adolescents, adults, carers and families, helping them to access imagination, express their emotions creatively emphasising and reflecting on personal life meanings.

I practice what is known as a “phenomenological” approach to art therapy. This involves the acceptance of individuals in a specific moment in time. The emphasis is on the individual’s uniqueness and experience of their present reality. Rather than making interpretations and judgement, I aim to journey with the individual as he/she explores images and emotions that arise from their present circumstances.

Art therapy is available in either individual or group sessions.


Art therapy therefore may encourage individuals to:

  • Release and express thoughts and feelings, hopes and concerns for the future.
  • Make sense of external confusion and dissatisfaction.
  • Enhance communication skills in relationships and in so doing develop insight.
  • Provide a point of interest for a conversation.
  • Provide an opportunity for individuals to make decisions and have control through choice of materials.
  • Provide a non – verbal avenue to express feelings or experiences that may be too difficult to verbalise. (I.e. anger, fear and anxiety).
  • Increase self-confidence and confidence (I.e. In work and social situations.
  • Stimulate imagination and creativity.
  • Assist with development of motor skills and physical coordination.
  • Have a lot of fun and enjoy the experience.