Art Therapy Lecture: Christine Volney

Today was the first day of Creative Futures Week, the most interesting talk that I attended was given by Christine Volney, a qualified art pscohotherapist in social services children and families.

When I was about 14 we had to research what we wanted to do in our future careers. At that time I was dead set against becoming an “artist” when I grew-up. I felt that artists had nothing to contribute to society,  lived impoverished lives and never heard their parents say they were proud of them. (Maybe a little of me still feels this way but has simply become selfish!) As a result, I was very stuck for anything to research.  I considered teaching, nursing and becoming prime minister…
Then I stumbled upon some information about art therapy, and was inspired! At the outset it seemed the PERFECT career choice, I’d be able to continue to study and practice art, while still making a difference to the world and thus remaining a WORTHY person. Hooray!
However, for the same reasons pointed out in this highly informative talk, I soon shied away from the idea.

These are my notes/afterthoughts:

What is art therapy?

  • Art has long been recognised as a  therapeutic activity
  • Recogised as a clinical profession (1982)
  • HPC State registration (1999)

Areas of Practice

  • Schools
  • Forensic settings
  • Social services
  • Community teams
  • General and psychiatric hospital
  • Palliative care (working with people with incurable illness)
  • CAMHS (Child and adolescent mental health service)
  • Subtance misuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Learning disabilities
  • Elderly
  • Other agencies and private practice

Aim of art therapy

  • To effect change and growth on a personal level
  • Understand the self, relationships and behavior
  • Provide a safe environment and build a trusting relationship
  • To enable expression of thoughts and feelings
  • To communicate things which are difficult or impossible to put into words
  • Develop and enjoy a sense of your own creativity
  • To gain support to deal with change

The Creative Process

  • Primarily concerned with the creative process rather than the finished object
  • Visual language provides a different range of expression
  • The process allows people to work though and face anxiety, fears, risk-taking, decision making and relationships

Art Materials/ Tactility

Christine Volney has a background in pottery and ceramics, she talked in detail about the responses that different people had to being able to work with clay. She noted that children in care and those with learning difficulties benefited from the physical element that is involved in working with clay. The actions of manipulating clay give them control, and allow emotions such as frustration to be released in a safe space.

  • To make visable what is felt
  • Control, freedom and spontaneity
  • Sensory experience
  • Links between body and mind; tensions and relaxation
  • Non-directive, supportive encouragement from the art therapist

Differences between Creative Art Workshops (Community Art) and Art Therapy

Art therapy is not leisure, diversion, pastime, art education or an art class.

It demonstrates artwork as a profound means of communication. Nothing can be wrong, the art therapist isn’t there to evaluate the “quality” of the work, but to engage in conversations about emotions and meaning in the art.

  • Directed activity
  • Social group
  • Flexible time

Training and Advice

  • Ability to speak in groups is vital
  • Therapy, including in groups, is part of the training
  • The course is 2 years full time and 3 years part-time
  • You must be 24 to enroll on the course
  • Available at Chester Uni
  • Unfortunately it is EXPENSIVE
  • But where there is a will there is a way!

The idea of having to go though therapy terrified me when I was 14, and is even scarier now. When it comes to emotions I’m a pretty rubbish person, I well-up in tears over some remarkably small things despite being able to hear the voice of reason protesting loudly in my head. I can’t imagine the cascades of unstoppable weeping I’d be in if I was forced to confront the odds and ends that have gone wrong in my life!

But as you need to be 24 to begin training, there is still the option for me to think about doing this in the future. After I’ve imposed a few comics on the world anyway! I’m really glad to have been to this talk and know that the opportunity for me is still out there.


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This entry was published on March 8, 2011 at 12:22 am. It’s filed under Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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