I am an HCPC registered Art Psychotherapist in Newport, south east Wales. Available for in person appointments with adults at my studio/therapy space near the the city center. Also at TIME Counselling and Wellbeing Centre in Risca, where my practice includes work with young people. You will find images of the therapy spaces further down this page.
I offer a supportive approach to exploring the circumstances, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, that are of concern to you. This might be something you regard as a mental-health concern, difficulty with relationships, or feeling that something is missing from, or 'wrong' with your life. Whether the nature of what you would like to resolve is rooted in the past, present, or uncertainty about the future, the therapy space offers you the opportunity to tell your story, and express yourself in confidence.
You might know exactly what you would like the therapy to help you address, or you may instinctively feel the need to explore certain areas of your life in greater depth. Sometimes questions such as these are what initially bring people to therapy;
- "Why do I feel this way?"
- "What do these experiences mean?"
- "How can I change my life?"
- "Who am I?".
The therapy sessions combine talking, with the option of using art materials as a means of expression and communication. Using the materials is encouraged and supported, but is not essential, and no prior experience of making art is required to work with me, or to benefit from the Art Therapy sessions.
It can sometimes feel difficult to take the first step in arranging psychotherapy, but I will respond promptly to your enquiry, and aim to make the process as straightforward as possible. The first step is to send me a message if you would like to arrange an initial appointment, or make an enquiry. I offer a free 10 minute phone consultation for those who would like to talk briefly before deciding whether to book an initial appointment.
Art Psychotherapy (or Art Therapy, the terms are interchangeable) utilises the 'therapeutic alliance', which is based upon mutual trust and respect between the client and the therapist, enabling the expression and exploration of both the conscious and unconscious aspects that influence your experience. This could be best thought of as a process in which both parties are involved, and are committed to working together to explore the thoughts and feelings that you express the session.
The process enables you to reach your own insights, and ways of proceeding in the world, rather than adopting those of the therapist. In this sense Psychotherapy is an empowering experience, and aims to be a way in which you can reveal greater meaning within your life, and bring the benefit of this to the important place you occupy in the broader scheme of things. We pay attention to the ways in which culture, society, and environment, influence how we experience ourselves and develop as individuals.
My own continued practice as a visual artist informs my understanding of creative processes, and I bring 15 years experience of engaging with the closely related fields of art, and psychotherapy, to my therapeutic work with clients. During this time I have worked in varied roles within mental health and social care services (both NHS and private sector). My experience as a client in psychotherapy also aids my work as a therapist.
Art Psychotherapy takes into consideration all the various aspects of yourself and your life. This includes your sense of inspiration and purpose, and how you would like to shape your future. Sometimes people feel all too aware of what seems to be 'bad' or 'wrong', and have become disconnected from their positive aspects. There may have been previous instances of feeling rejected or shamed, not taken seriously, or keeping quiet about certain desires or ambitions for fear of not being heard. Our work seeks to bring these parts of yourself out of hiding, and reintegrate them within your life as required.
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On this profile page I cover the following areas
- Uses of Art Psychotherapy, and how it can be of benefit to you
- Overview of Art Psychotherapy
- How I work, and what approaches inform my practice
- My training, education, and experience
- Beginning Therapy
- Frequently Asked Questions (including "I'm no good at art!")
In addition there is practical information such as location, fees, and availability (at the bottom of the page).
1. Uses of Art Psychotherapy, and how it can benefit you
Art Psychotherapy combines verbal and visual communication, by incorporating the use of art materials within the 'therapeutic relationship' that exists between client and therapist. It is a versatile way to explore and engage with the following areas;
- Growing in conscious awareness of the psychological realities within yourself, and in society
- Understanding and healing emotional distress, and trauma
- When it is difficult to find the words for how you feel
- Relationships - working with difficulties, and finding greater depth within them
- Society and culture - understanding that our personal experience is closely interwoven with the wider world
- Nurturing your sense of confidence and presence
- Imagination - This is sometimes thought of as meaning 'unreal', or just for children. I see it is a very valuable faculty, at the core of our being
- Discovering and responding to your sense of purpose
- Spiritual / Religious perspectives - What is your relationship to the sacred, or divine?
- Nature and Soul - Living in accord with the 'more than human world'
It is often experiences such as these which initially bring people to therapy, and I have worked with people who have used the following terms to describe their how they feel and what their main concerns are.
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder
- Social Anxiety
- Panic Attacks
- Feeling Sad
- Social Anxiety
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Relationship problems
- Absence of meaning or purpose in life
- Bereavement and grief
- Experiences of violence or oppression
- Low self-esteem
- Low self-confidence
- Issues around spiritual experience
Whatever is discussed or created during the therapy, I will pay attention to you carefully, with no assumptions being made in relation to your past or present. You will be treated as a whole person, and not a collection of problems or labels.
2. Overview of Art Psychotherapy
"The therapeutic role of the arts in alleviating human suffering and resolving emotional conflict predates the birth of art therapy as a profession by thousands of years. The novelty of art therapy lies in its merging of these practices with the relatively new fields of psychiatry and psychotherapy." (Shaun McNiff).
Art Psychotherapy in the UK is regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council, with whom I am registered, and I abide by their code of performance and ethics. I hold the necessary professional indemnity insurance, and engage in regular clinical supervision with a suitably experienced therapist.
Art Therapy as a professional practice in the field of counselling and psychotherapy, and is distinct from what might be considered 'art based activities'. Whilst using art materials can certainly have a therapeutic benefit in itself, working with a qualified therapist is very different, and will enable you to bring psychological insight to your experience, as you engage with the deeper qualities of images and creative processes.
At the heart of the work is the 'therapeutic relationship' between client and therapist. This term relates to the unique nature of the interaction between the two people, which is intended to create a supportive, nurturing, and confidential alliance. This enables you to express any aspect of your experience which needs to be given voice. It is distinct from a friendship, familial, or work relationship because it incorporates clear boundaries. In addition to existing in a real and practical way for the client, it also functions symbolically. This is where the therapist may at times come to represent aspects of significant figures in the life of the client, or be experienced as embodying particular qualities (character traits, knowledge, emotions, attitudes) which may or may not be the reality for the therapist themselves. This is an element of psychodynamic practice, which enables the client and therapist to work with elements of the clients inner world which have become constellated in the relationship with the therapist.
The art in art therapy also forms a key part of this 'relationship' between the two parties. It is not regarded in terms of its artistic 'merit', but instead offers a means of communication, and mode of expression. When you use the art materials my role is to stimulate engagement with the image by nurturing the 'spirit of enquiry' about what has been made, consider how we both relate to the image, and to support the deepening of your own insight into the relationship between the image and your inner life.
3. How I work, and what approaches inform my practice
'Theory informs - Experience Transforms'
The way I work is primarily informed by depth psychology and psychodynamic principles, as well as contemporary and historic traditions within the arts and culture.
In my approach to therapy, what are often termed 'symptoms' are treated with a certain respect. We enquire into their meaning, origin, and look for what is calling for our attention, the root of the problem. The aim is that whatever brings you to seek therapy in the first instance - often a crisis or sense of 'breakdown' - can lead to a breakthrough in terms of Self awareness, purpose, and leading a life that is fulfilling.
The therapy acknowledges that we exist within a world that makes many demands of us, and we find that we cannot control many factors in our environment. We challenge both the internal and external critic(s), which can create a sense of blame or shame, and distort how we relate to ourselves and others.
My integrative approach to Art Psychotherapy has roots in a number of different psychological modalities, and ways of considering the human experience.
It is important to recognise that these are elements which may inform how I interact with you during the session, and that the essence of the therapy is 'person centered'. This means that the emphasis is always on working with you through conversation and creative engagement with art materials.
Depth Psychology - Refers to that which lies beneath the surface; the unconscious, dreams, obscured or more hidden aspects of ourselves which influence our experience. This includes exploration of the imagination; the place from which images, stories, inspiration, mythologies, all emerge. Depth Psychology looks both within the individual, and also outwards, at how our identity meets with the wider ‘collective' of humanity, and the world in general. This might include considering the motivations that drive and influence the behaviour of corporations, organisations, governments, social groups, cultures, etc. One example of an approach to 'depth psychology' which may be a more familiar term for some would be 'Jungian'—relating to the work and continued influence of Carl Jung.
Psychodynamic Therapy - Considering unconscious processes, and helping to understand the pain arising from conflicting feelings, and aspects of ourselves that we may have come to view as troublesome or unacceptable. This includes consideration of the here-and-now dynamics that exist within the 'therapeutic relationship' between client and therapist during the therapy session itself.
Transpersonal psychology - Engaging with spiritual tools, traditions, or ideas, integrated with psychological approaches.
Ecopsychology - Explores our relationship with, and as parts of the Natural world, often expressed in terms of recognising how our individual experience is linked to the wider web of life.
Training, qualifications & experience
- MA Art Psychotherapy, Goldsmiths College, University of London
- Ba(Hons) 1st Class, Fine Art: Contemporary Media, University of South Wales.
Since 2008 my experience in the field of mental health and social care has come from a number of contrasting settings, working with many individuals of varied age, background, and personality.
I have worked as an Art Psychotherapist in an NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, and as a trainee I undertook placements in CAMHS, and in an NHS adult psychiatric inpatient setting. Prior to and during my training I worked for 4 years in an NHS community facility for adults following discharge from the local psychiatric hospital. More recently I have also provided day to day management (including staff supervision) of a local authority accommodation for young adults (16-25) classed as vulnerable, and worked within a residential adult mental health service in the private sector. I now work independently as an Art Psychotherapist in private practice, and a visual artist.
Within this range of experience, I have helped people experiencing difficulties and challenging circumstances including;
- low mood
- feeling sad
- panic attacks
- low self-esteem
- low self-confidence
- problems within families and relationships
- young people in, and leaving care
- illness and physical disabilities
- learning disabilities
In addition, I have experience as a client in psychotherapy, with several different therapists. This means that I am familiar with what it might be like to seek the services of a therapist and to engage in the therapeutic process from that perspective.
Registered / Accredited
Being registered/accredited with a professional body means an individual must have achieved a substantial level of training and experience approved by their member organisation.
Health and Care Professions Council
The HCPC are an independent, UK-wide health regulator. They set standards of professional training, performance and conduct for 16 professions.
They keep a register of health professionals who meet their standards, and they take action if registered health professionals fall below those standards. They were created by a piece of legislation called the Health Professions Order 2001.
Registration means that a health professional meets national standards for their professional training, performance and conduct.
Areas of counselling I deal with
Other areas of counselling I deal with
- Depth Psychology
- Archetypal Psychology
- Spiritual Psychology
- Art as spiritual practice
- Men's work
£50.00 per session
Free initial telephone session
Concessions offered for
- All sessions are for 1 hour.
- I offer a number of places for clients paying a concessionary rate. Please feel free to enquire about the availability of these sessions.
- The same fee applies to the initial appointment.
I offer a free 10 minute phone consultation for those who would like a brief conversation before deciding whether to meet.
Saturday appointments are available once or twice per month.
6. Beginning therapy
The initial meeting is an opportunity for you to talk about what brings you to seek therapeutic work at this time, and how you would like it to benefit you. We can also discuss the practicalities of the therapy arrangement, and I will describe how I work and what this approach may have to offer you. Sometimes people can feel anxious about attending this appointment because of the unfamiliarity of the setting, and talking to the therapist who at this point is essentially a stranger. We take things at your own pace, and there is no pressure to talk about anything you do not feel comfortable discussing at this stage.
Following the introductory session you are free to decide whether or not you would like to work together.
7. Frequently Asked Questions
How many sessions do I need to have? | There is no set number of sessions, this will be your decision, and something we will discuss and review as we go. I suggest beginning with the initial appointment followed by 3 sessions as a minimum. Some people may continue to work with me for a few months, others choose to do so for longer. We will regularly check in and think together about the relevance and effectiveness of the therapy, and if you would like it to continue. You are always free to end the therapy whenever you like. It is recommended to talk in advance about any thoughts or decisions about ending, so we can both plan a constructive end to our work together.
How often are the sessions? | I work with clients weekly. Especially at the beginning this regularity enables the 'therapeutic alliance' (a sense of trust and confidence in the therapist, and the space) to develop more fully and quickly than it may do if sessions are more spread out. It also provides a greater sense of therapeutic 'holding', particularly for those who may be experiencing more acute levels of disturbance. It also allows scope for us to work in greater detail, observing more closely changes and developments in your outer, and inner life.
Some people may prefer fortnightly sessions for a range of reasons, and I am open to considering this option.
Certain clients with whom there has been several months of more frequent work, may benefit from 'as and when' sessions. This can be considered if we are both agreed it is an appropriate way to proceed.
Are art materials provided? | I provide a basic range of paint, pastels, pens, and paper. If you would like to bring some of your own materials to use we can discuss this.
Do I have to make images during the sessions? | Using the art materials in each session is not mandatory. It is perfectly OK a session to be focussed upon conversation. You will have the freedom to use the session time and the materials in the way that suits you best. On some occasions, if appropriate, I may suggest a theme for an image (or series of images), and offer encouragement to use the materials. This will be based around helping you to get the most from your sessions.
"I am no good at art!" | This may not be a question, but it is a phrase I hear frequently! There can be a number of reasons why people feel this way, and the thought of having to create something in a therapy setting can be daunting for some. This can often relate to previous experiences of making art, where our efforts have not been met with a nurturing response, perhaps from teachers, parents, or peers. Sometimes making images in therapy can take people 'back' to being in school, or childhood, with all the memories associated with this, which can understandably feel difficult.
I am experienced in working with people who feel apprehensive about using art materials, and quite often the anxiety people feel around this provides very useful (psychological) material to worth with in the therapy.
The 'art' in art therapy is not about making a piece that is regarded as a 'good work of art', but your thoughts about what constitutes something 'good' or 'bad' are important. Images are not interpreted to have one meaning for all. For example, if you made a painting of a chair, I would not be interpreting the image as if someone painting 'a chair' has a fixed and universal meaning. Instead we would both be responding to this particular image in the context of the therapy, your experiences and life. It is often of enquiring about what the image may have to tell us, rather than telling the image what it 'means.'