Andrew Phillips | Art Psychotherapist / Art Therapist | HCPC | Newport Wales
I am available for appointments with adults in Newport (south east Wales). I also work 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 art psychotherapy online over Zoom, for clients who are unable to attend in person.
Please send me a message if you would like to arrange an initial appointment, or make an enquiry. I will respond as soon as possible. I have included lots of information on this page, but please don't feel obliged to read all it before you get in touch. I offer a free 10 minute phone consultation for those who would like to talk briefly before deciding whether to book an initial appointment.
Would you like to explore your thoughts, emotions, and experience, within a supportive and non-judgemental creative setting? Art psychotherapy (or Art Therapy) is a form of psychological therapy that can include both visual, and verbal communication during the therapy session. Using the art 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 sessions.
I help people to heal the wounds of the past, negotiate the difficulties of the present, and move towards the future with confidence. Using art materials within a psychotherapeutic setting can be an effective way to work with distress and difficult or unwelcome feelings, develop a greater sense of insight about your life, and improve your sense of wellbeing.
A key component of psychotherapy is that it takes into account all the various aspects of yourself and your life. This means that in addition to working with the kinds of difficulties and concerns that often bring people to psychotherapy initially, it also provides a space where whatever is important to you is welcomed. That might include where you find your inspiration, and purpose. One reason to come to art psychotherapy could be that you feel disconnected from these aspects of yourself, or a persistent sense of numbness, of being 'stuck'. 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.
My approach to art psychotherapy also engages with our experience of connection to the wider world beyond the 'personal', for what we might tend to regard as our own problems and conflicts, can also be viewed in the context of the cultures, societies, and environments in which we live. For example, if there is anxiety or depression within your personal experience, we would enquire into where these anxious or depressive qualities, and their causes, may also be found in our society. From this perspective we can consider how much of what we feel truly belongs to us. From an Ecopsychology or Transpersonal perspective, might what we experience as individuals also be partly the expression of the wider web of Nature, of which we are a part?
I have been involved with art and psychotherapy in different ways for over 15 years, and appreciate both the theoretical and experiential potential of these fields for helping us to navigate challenges, and enrich our lives. This has included a commitment to making art, working in varied roles within mental health and social care, training and practicing as an art psychotherapist, and being a client in psychotherapy with several different therapists (psychosynthesis, transpersonal, and Jungian analysis). See section 5 for more details.
On this profile page I cover the following areas
- Uses of Art Psychotherapy, and how it can be of benefit to you
- Is Art Therapy a good option for you / Will I be a suitable therapist for you?
- Overview of Art Psychotherapy
- How I work, and what approaches inform my practice
- My training, education, and experience
- Starting 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). By following the link to my website you will be able to get a sense of my own engagement with art, creative processes, the themes that inform my work, and how that links in with therapy.
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 wounding, 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 - It is often disregarded, but is vital as a catalyst for change
- 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. Is Art Therapy a good option / am I a suitable therapist for you?
Once you have decided that psychotherapy is something you would like to try, it can seem daunting to find a therapy which is likely to meet your needs, combined with a therapist with whom you feel comfortable enough to be open and frank. The old cliché is that there are as many different therapies as their are therapists. Here are a few points for consideration around whether what I offer may be of interest to you.
- Although I specialise in working with people who have an interest in art, and in making images during the therapy session, you do not need to be 'good' at, or familiar with art making
- I work in an integrative way, which means I tailor my approach to suit you, rather than adopting one theoretical model
- Giving advice about what you 'should' do is not part of my approach
- We work with the notion that ultimately you know what you need to do, or change, but this knowledge may either be unconscious, or cannot be acted upon for some reason - we then explore those reasons together
- The language and clinical terms of psychiatry, psychology, and mental health, have their value and uses within certain contexts. However, it can often be unhelpful and limiting as a way to describe and explain your personal experience. Whilst being quite different to meeting with a friend or another close acquaintance, our therapy sessions will be more in the nature of exploratory, soulful conversations, rather than the language of 'therapy speak.'
- Working with dreams can form part of the therapy, as this is also working with imagery, and the unconscious
- I specialise in working with those who acknowledge a connection between art and a transpersonal, or spiritual worldview, but this is not essential
- I have a particular interest in Nature, the importance of place, and landscape
- My main interests in terms of theory and approach are; Jungian/Analytical psychology, Archetypal psychology, Transpersonal psychology
- I feel that the arts have as much to teach us about 'psychology' as psychology itself - a direct route to human experience. So my preferred theorists are those who place the importance of art and creativity as central to their understanding
- Making images is something I am consistently engaged in, which means I can bring this experience to our work together
- The art therapy sessions may include humour, which in itself can be a useful healing tool. A sense of playfulness is also valuable - approaching creativity with the sense of exploration that comes more naturally to children, and is often lost or abandoned by adulthood
- At appropriate times the therapy may involve a certain degree of challenge, or questioning. This can be a necessary part of changing assumptions we make about ourselves, or letting go of the negative attitudes of others. For example, we may have internalised a sense of limitation based on what we have been told by others. It is my role not to collude with patterns of behaviour and thought which are detrimental to you
- You do not need to agree with my outlook. Working with our real, or perceived differences can be very useful
New clients often express concerns about 'not being good at art', and uncertainty around using the materials to make images. I am experienced in working with those who feel apprehensive about this, and can assure you that art psychotherapy is just as suitable for someone who is unfamiliar with using art materials, as it is for those who have worked creatively for many years. (See FAQ's for more on this).
3. 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 is akin to 'talking therapy' modes of treatment in the field of 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 environment in which to give expression to 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.
4. 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.
Attachment Theory - A way of illuminating the bonds we make to particular others, and of considering the distress which arises from unwilling separation or loss.
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, 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 with organisations in the charitable sector.
A great deal of my therapeutic approach is informed by a continued engagement with art making. The central theme of my work (generally mixed-media, painting, and drawing) focuses upon exploring a sense of 'inner landscape,' and connecting through this to the wider world of Nature. My work has appeared in various exhibitions and publications, and in 2019 I was elected a Professional Member of the Society of Scottish Artists. You will find further information (and images) about this side of my practice through the link to my website.
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. It is a requirement for art psychotherapist's to have been in therapy throughout the duration of the training (3 years), and I also sought this out prior to, and after my studies. In addition to being beneficial for wellbeing, I found psychotherapy to be an enriching way of engaging with one's sense of purpose in life, the unconscious, art and symbols, history, myth, and spirituality.
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
£45.00 per session
Free initial telephone session
Concessions offered for
- £45 per 1 hour session is my standard fee
- Concessions are available on an affordability basis, rather than by category (e.g student, over 65's, etc). Please feel free to enquire.
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. Starting 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? | My general recommendation is for weekly meetings. Especially at the beginning this enables the 'therapeutic relationship' (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.'