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Explains what arts and creative therapies are, the different types that exist and how to access them.
Arts and creative therapies are treatments which involve using arts-based activities in a therapeutic environment, with the support of a trained professional. You don't need to have done these activities before, or have any particular skills or knowledge.
Different people will have different experiences of arts and creative therapies, but they all aim to:
Therapy sessions can take place in a one-to-one setting or a group, and are offered in a range of settings including charities such as local Minds, day centres, hospitals and therapy centres.
For more information, see our page on accessing arts and creative therapies.
"It helps quiet my mind. Concentrating on the colours, lines and shapes takes me away from the noise in my head."
Mind ambassador Stuart Semple talks about how doodling, drawing and colouring in help him during his panic attacks, and how being creative helps him with his mental health generally.
Anyone who refers to themselves an art therapist, dramatherapist or music therapist must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). You can check if a therapist is registered using the HCPC's Check the Register service.
They must also belong to the relevant professional body:
Dance movement therapists aren't regulated by HCPC, so aren't on their register. But it's good practice for them to belong to a relevant professional body such as the Association for Dance Movement Psychotherapy UK.
Research suggests that arts and creative therapies may help with mental health problems, but it's difficult to be sure because many studies have included fairly small numbers of people.
More research is needed to establish which problems or conditions arts and creative therapies can treat, or if particular aspects of each type of therapy are especially important in helping with mental health problems.
Some people say they find these sorts of therapies helpful because they provide ways of addressing painful feelings and difficult experiences without talking about them – which can sometimes include experiences of trauma.
"The therapists were able to tell a lot from what you had created... and it helped open up topics for conversation or get a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions out of your head."
As with all treatments, different things work for different people at different times and it's not easy to predict which type of therapy you might find useful or effective.
Although some people find arts and creative therapies helpful, not everyone does. If you've tried something and it hasn't helped, try not to blame yourself. There are other options you can try.
See our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem for other options you could explore.
"It helps me when I struggle to find the words, when I'm too angry, despairing or confused to know what I think. It gives me a voice."
This information was published in November 2018. We will revise it in 2021.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.