Experiences of Art Psychotherapy in Early Adulthood: an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
This study was concerned with exploring young people’s experiences of engaging in individual Art Therapy sessions. An exploratory research question was formulated and addressed using a qualitative methodology. Five young adults were recruited through voluntary organisations and art therapists in private practice. Participants took part in semi structured interviews, which were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Five master themes were constructed from the data: From an initial trepidation, young adults engaged with art materials, enjoying parts of the process. They felt under observation by their art therapists, and they overcame the challenge of trusting their therapist when they felt emotionally validated and understood. They made sense of their presenting difficulties through their art-making, gaining further psychological insight. They felt connected with their childhood, recalling fond memories and feeling compassion for their child self. They considered the impact of Art Therapy sessions as a learning experience. These findings highlight the need for further research to explore further the process of making sense of difficulties through art, and the therapeutic value of connecting to one’s childhood. Art Therapy can be experienced as a rewarding learning process, that helps young adults express and process their difficulties. Its benefits should be therefore communicated to referrers, service users and service developers, as it is a therapeutic mode that may offer different experiences to talking therapies.
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