Being able to express one’s feelings through a creative outlet is very important to recovery from stress and development of a healthy outlook in life. Studies from Scottish and UK researches have showed dramatic improvement in people with mental health problems when subjected to arts therapy.


The development of a healthy human outlook in life and recovery from great mental stress through creative expression has been known to do well even across cultures. Art therapies allow those with mental health problems to tap in their inner and creative resources while also exploring the patient’s personal issues at a contained and safe avenue together with trained mental health specialists.

In the last couple of decades, much excitement and interest has been generated in arts-in-health alternatives which patients are engaged in a creative process to treat their problems. This engagement promotes having a healthy outlook well-being as well as in mental health. Studies from Scottish and UK researches showed that people who have mental health problems and are engaged in creative arts therapies have done wonders for their recovery. Arts therapy can be taken in combination with other therapies and taking in prescribed medications for better results. For patients who have gotten better through arts therapy, they attest that they feel a much better sense of control and choice than when they are taking medication or undergoing talk therapy alone.

Development of arts therapy in UK

Arts Therapies include dance, drama, art, movement and music therapies. Each of these therapies has had their own origins in the early twentieth century when psychiatry and the discovery of the unconsciousness had just begun. Psychiatrists believe that the creative therapy taps into the patient’s unconscious state and use it to work to their advantage. In the Second World War, people who practice art and other medical professionals began to explore the potentials of the arts in different ways. They first worked in hospitals and showed that making drama, art or listening to music made the patients feel healed and restored to their normal selves. The 60s and 70s were periods that the arts therapy became established with professional and training courses put together to make a strategic process.

Arts Therapists are required to have a first degree, usually related to the arts, after which it is followed by post-graduate training courses which have strong psychological element. In the year 1999, the professions of Drama, Art, and Music Therapy had become State Registered.

The Dance Movement Therapy wants to attain the same status by the year 2004. State Registration entails that Arts Therapies are included in the Professions Allied to Medicine and are legitimate resources for treatment with those who have learning disability, mental health problems, or other impairments, like sensory disability. Arts Therapists in UK are employed in various settings: across need spectrum and the age of the patients. Employment settings include: in and outpatient in hospitals, social work, mental health teams in communities, in prisons, in private and voluntary sectors, and in schools. But most arts therapies are set in hospitals and other institutionalized buildings.

Availability of the arts therapies in UK

Arts Therapy in the UK and in Scotland is still patchy with the majority of the provisions present in South East of England and in some urban centres. Aside from this, majority of the arts therapies provision is hosted under hospitals, with very few services accessible in communities. Reasons why this is so can be explained by the following:

  • Arts therapies have only become state registered and recognised as a form of health profession back in 1999. The therapy has not had sufficient influence over service development and resource allocation at local or national levels
  • Arts therapy and its potential benefits are not well advertised amongst the public, especially those who have mental health problems, service commissioners and policy makers
  • Policy makers are still not convinced that arts therapy can sufficiently improve patient’s well-being and that service commissioners are not willing to invest to arts therapy services.

Even if investments in arts therapies are not going so well, community arts initiatives have more investments, including health remits, for over five to ten years. Community arts initiatives have been explicitly related to community regeneration and development programmes. Evaluation on this art initiatives show that they can contribute well to the individual and the community well-being.

Community-based arts initiatives and arts therapies in general have the same base – they use the patient’s creative expression as the tool of promoting mental well-being. But despite knowing this, the influence of creative expression cannot be made as the sole basis for evaluating the efficiency of either community arts initiatives or arts therapies.

Arts-in-health movement

Peter Senior was the one who made the arts-in-health movement begin in UK with his works in St. Mary’s Hospital in 1973 at Manchester. The Attenborough Report on the Arts and Disabled centred on the importance of the healing process and the arts. The study made a structured approach and gave it to a large number of organisations set up by charities and developed outreach programs to the local community. This process involves commissioning artists who must work on very special projects for the community.

Strengthening the relations between arts-in-health, arts therapies and the community

Both the community arts initiative and arts therapy are vital components to realize the importance of creativity in human well-being and sound mental health.

  • Arts therapies can be seen as different to community arts initiatives because they have defined clinical and medical purpose and most of these therapies are located in hospitals
  • To establish the credibility of using the creative process as a healing and restorative means of treatment, arts therapists have begun to use psychotherapeutic theories a lot more than explore the value of creativity in the healing process