Art Psychotherapy

I trained at Goldsmiths, University of London and qualified in 2015 (MA with Distinction).

While at Goldsmiths I received the Corinne Burton Memorial Trust scholarship. The award part-funded my training and provides funding for two further years to provide art ther­apy for people affected by cancer.

I am currently Honorary Art Psychotherapist at Barts Cancer Centre, offering one-to-one art psychotherapy for cancer inpatients and outpatients and their significant others as part of Cancer Psychological Services (CPS). My post is funded jointly by the Corinne Burton Memorial Trust and Barts Charity.

This year I am developing a new pilot study to assess the helpfulness of art therapy for patients with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) as a result of their cancer or its treatment. The study will focus on art therapy techniques which provide a tactile or kinaesthetic experience for patients (e.g., iPad apps, clay etc), and investigate how patients’ sense of physical agency during art making can contribute to rehabilitation, identity-strengthening, and increased ability to communicate.

During 2015-2016 I developed and ran a pilot study to assess the effectiveness of a single session of art therapy for day patients receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Patients found the single session really helpful – click here to see the report.

The pilot study came about through conversations with psychologists who were concerned about the lack of psychological support for outpatients on the chemotherapy ward. In my work at Barts I’ve been interested in collaborating with the psychologist team and fostering a better mutual understanding between psychologists and art therapists. During the past year I ran a CPD event for the CPS team and co-facilitated two Death Cafés for Barts Hospital staff (see here for the article about this initiative I co-wrote for the European Journal of Palliative Care). I also worked with one of the psychologists to offer art therapy-based counselling to a cancer patient and his family.

During 2013-14 I was on training placement at a low secure ward for adult offenders in another large London hospital. With another art therapy trainee I set up and co-facilitated two art psychotherapy groups for male offenders with mental health issues such as schizoaffective disorders, psychosis and borderline personality disorders.

I passionately believe in the power of creativity to allow psychological healing, and in the importance of art making as the central therapeutic agent in art therapy. In 2015 I was invited to curate ‘Body, Mind and Spirit’, an exhibition to coincide with the launch of two new art therapy books: Art Therapy with Physical Conditions and Art Therapy with Neurological Conditions (Jessica Kingsley Publishers). The exhibition included artworks by the authors of the chapters in the two books as well as art therapy clients, and aimed to highlight some of the processes by which art making can provide meaning and insight (for both therapist and client) in often very challenging situations.