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The Power of Art Therapy

Art Therapy is a form of psychotherapy, with a unique emphasis on communicating through the art-making process instead of the spoken word. Art-making is natural and spontaneous, which renders the therapy less threatening in the first place. Art Therapy addresses critical concerns that pose a threat to an individual’s emotional, social, and psychological well-being.

The creative process involved in making art is life-enhancing and inherently therapeutic. Art Therapy is strengthening and builds confidence and self-esteem. The art expression and creativity focus on healing and reflection. Art making is comfortable, safe, familiar, and therefore sessions are less anxiety provoking than conventional therapy. In the sessions, clients are given freedom and choice, using the art materials in the way that is most helpful to them. Clients are encouraged to explore and experiment, to begin working through difficult feelings at their own pace. The emphasis is on the process of creating rather than on the end product.

Art Therapy helps clients to express their thoughts and feelings in a contained environment. It can help them to deal with their problems and difficulties, using art as symbolic language for exploring the client’s issues. We encourage them to tell their stories and discover their own interpretations, using the art as a processing tool.

The therapist provides a non-judgemental, confidential, supportive and consistent space. They are a calm and reliable presence. The relationship between client and therapist is an important part of the therapy. It involves trust and the benefits of sincere interest and attention. The active presence and interaction with the therapist encourages recovery through creative activity. The therapist’s constant attitude is to empower the client to find and develop their own capacities and skills.

The essence of Art Therapy lies in the therapeutic outcome of the creative activity.

Interview: Hectic Nine-9

Interviewed on Hectic Nine-9

I was asked to appear on the popular youth TV show Hectic Nine-9.  They were having a themed week about colour, and I was asked to talk about Art Therapy. In the video I briefly explain what Art Therapy is and who can benefit.  I also demonstrated one of the warm up exercises that is commonly used in therapy sessions. (The video is 6MB… it may take a couple of moments to load depending on your bandwidth)


Interview: My Brilliant Career

Finding healing through art

Tessa Whyatt is an art therapist who uses art to help her clients work through their emotional issues. She tells Margaret Harris how the therapy is well suited to children who find the process of making art a natural method of communication

What does an art therapist do?

Art therapists work with people who are dealing with difficult issues, thoughts and feelings, using a psychotherapy base. What is unique about our approach is the emphasis on communicating through the art-making process, instead of the spoken word. Art therapists provide various art materials and help the client go on a personal exploration, with a focus on healing and reflection. We encourage clients to tell their stories using art and creativity as a processing tool. The therapeutic relationship is a key factor, and the art therapist provides a safe space for them to express their difficulties.

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Welcome to my Website!

I am an artist and Art Therapist living and working in Cape Town. I completed an art foundation at Central Saint Martin’s in London, specializing in ceramics, and a B.A. Fine Arts at the University of Cape Town, specializing in sculpture. This was followed by a Masters in Art Therapy at the University of Hertfordshire in the U.K. I registered as an Art Therapist with the Health Professions Council of South Africa in 2011. I divide my time between my art practice as a ceramicist from my studio in Observatory and working as an Art Therapist in private practice and for NGOs