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Arts and creative therapies

Explains what arts and creative therapies are, the different types that exist and how to access them.

"Arts therapies allowed me to use my imagination for something positive."

Dance movement therapy

Dance movement therapy (also known as dance therapy) involves using body movement and dance. For example, you might explore different types of movements and rhythms. You don't need to have any dance skills or experience.

Some people say dance movement therapy has helped them to feel more in touch with their body and their physical surroundings, address difficult feelings about their body or appearance, or explore difficult feelings or experiences through movement rather than words. Find out more from the Association for Dance Movement Psychotherapy.


Dramatherapists are trained to help you explore different types of drama and performance activities that might be helpful for you. For example, you might invent characters, tell stories, improvise scenes, do physical mimes or use puppets or masks. You don't need to have any acting or theatre skills or experience.

For some people this can provide a way to express or resolve difficult feelings or experiences, or to safely explore being playful and using their imagination. Find out more from the British Association of Dramatherapists.

"Producing music can untangle my thoughts and re-establish order."

Music therapy

Music therapy involves exploring music and sound. You don't need to have any musical knowledge or experience – for example you don't need to know how to read music, or be able to play any musical instruments.

All human beings are able to respond to music, and music therapy uses this connection to help you have a therapeutic experience. Music therapists often provide instruments that are fairly easy for most people to use, such as cymbals, wood blocks or bells.

Together with your therapist, you might listen to music or use different types of instruments to explore ways of communicating and expressing your feelings. For example, you and your therapist might make sounds together in a way that feels therapeutic for you. Find out more from the British Association for Music Therapy.

an image of a person holding a saxophone

Music and my mental health

"Music sets me free from the prison I feel inside my head."

Visual art therapy

Visual art therapy (also known as art therapy) involves using visual art materials. For example, you might use pens, pencils, crayons, paint, chalk, clay or collaging. You don't need to have any art skills or experience.

With support from your therapist, you might use art materials to express your feelings or experiences. Your therapist might sometimes provide ideas or prompts – for example, some art therapy groups might focus on a particular theme or activity each session. Find out more from the British Association of Art Therapists.

"My hope is that I make people smile with my art work and through doing art therapies I can challenge my mind to get to a better place."

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.

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