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Art Therapy

Our free, confidential and non-judgemental Art Therapy service is for young people (aged 12 to 18) in Midlothian. You can refer yourself or be referred by your GP, social worker, school, family member or carer.

Art therapy is a form of therapy that uses art as its primary way of expressing anything that might be worrying you. It’s a chance to creatively explore in confidence, feelings and emotions which may be too difficult or upsetting to put into words.

Art therapists can help you deal with a range of issues including:

  • anxiety/stress
  • anger
  • depression
  • bereavement
  • loneliness
  • relationship problems
  • self-esteem and confidence
  • self-harm
  • eating problems

Using the art materials can help to express feelings and allow a focus that can help to manage overwhelming emotions.

Information on how you can refer can be found here.

You don’t have to be good at art to do Art Therapy

Art Therapy is not a recreational activity or an art lesson, although the sessions can be enjoyable. It is a space for you to think about and communicate what’s happening for you much like you may do in counselling.

You don’t have to be good at art to do art therapy and your art therapist won’t judge or analyse anything you make or say. It is completely up to you how much you say or use the art materials. There is no pressure to draw how you feel or to talk about what you make.

As you begin to feel more relaxed and safe with your art therapist, you may find you want to talk about your art work and its meanings however. This can be helpful and you can learn a lot about yourself.

Some people take a while before they use the art materials and you may find it helpful to know that you don’t have to use the art materials to use the Art Therapy Service at MYPAS.

Art Therapy is confidential

Both the art and what is said during the art therapy session is confidential.

We won’t give information about you to others without your permission unless we think that you, or someone else, is at risk of harm.

Your art therapist will always do their best to let you know if we have to share information about you so that you know what’s going on.

Any art work you make will be kept in a safe place until the end of your sessions when you may take it away with you or chose to leave it with your Art Therapist.

Having a record of your artwork means you can look back at the work you’ve made. Your art therapist will set time aside for you to do this.

Confidentially and its limits will be explained by the art therapist at your first session.

How you’ll know if Art Therapy is helping

Thinking creativity in a therapeutic space can help to express feelings and allow a focus that can help to manage overwhelming emotions.

You may find that you notice changes in your thoughts and feelings and that you have the space to think about relationships and yourself differently when you’re having art therapy.

Young people who have had art therapy often say that they:

  • had a better understanding of themselves and others.
  • slept better and could express themselves more easily.
  • felt less anxious and sad and were more able to calm down when they were angry.
  • felt more hopeful about the future.
  • are calmer and their friendships were improved.

Young people have also told us that they were glad they had art therapy because it gave them a safe relaxed space to make what they wanted to, without judgement or expectations.

“I found it easier to talk and do art than just sit and talk”

What to do if you’re not coping between appointments

If you’re finding it hard in between sessions, it’s important that you tell your Art Therapist. They can then help you work out what you are experiencing and explore things you can do to look after yourself and/or get more support.

If you get upset and cry, it won’t matter

You won’t be forced to talk about anything that you don’t want to. Getting upset and crying is normal and could happen at your sessions.

Your art therapist is there to support you, and may suggest taking a break if things get too upsetting for you.

What to do if you don’t get on with your Art Therapist

Sometimes we don’t get on with people, if this is how you feel, we hope that you are able to tell your art therapist so you can try and resolve things together.

How many sessions you’ll have and how long they’ll last

Art Therapy sessions are weekly and last for 50mins each week. You and your Art Therapist will decide the best time and place.

Your art therapist can offer up to 12 sessions. This depends on the young person and your needs. You can talk to your art therapist if you feel you need more sessions.

How we’re working now:

During the pandemic, we introduced several new way of working with and supporting our young people. So in addition to face to face sessions we also offer:

Online sessions: MYPAS will deliver art bags with materials for you to use during sessions. You will need to find a place you can store these and any artwork you make. It is a good idea to discuss this with your teacher or parent/carer before sessions start.

Outdoor Sessions: The art therapist will bring the art materials each week and together you can decide what will happen to anything made during the sessions. Outdoor sessions are weather dependent and can mean a slightly longer wait while we find a suitable space. 

How long you’ll wait to see an art therapist depends on how many other people have been referred to the service.

If you’ve been waiting longer than you expected, give us a call to double check where you are on the list and how much longer it will be.