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²gether NHS Foundation Trust has been using Gloucestershire’s museums to provide a different environment for art psychotherapy sessions for people experiencing mental health issues.

The groups have been run by Art Psychotherapists from the trust’s Complex Psychological Interventions teams, and are an innovative approach to art psychotherapy for adults with severe and enduring mental illness.

One group, catering for 18-25-year-olds, has recently finished running at Gloucester City Museum, while another, for adults of all ages, has got underway at The Museum in the Park, Stroud. NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group helped fund the Gloucester group through their Cultural Commissioning programme.

Art Psychotherapist Ali Coles explained what happens during the sessions: “By holding these sessions in the community, we are increasing social inclusion. We work with the exhibits and objects within the museum, as well as art-making, using them as a stimulus for self-exploration, to enable people to reflect on their feelings and experiences.

“This is a growing area of interest for Art Psychotherapists, so we’re really pleased the groups have had such positive feedback from those attending.”

Overall, participants in the Gloucester City Museums group felt a significant decrease in the severity of problems they experienced and an increase in their self-esteem.

One group member said: “Holding the group in a museum was so much better and not so clinical. I could be a person, not a patient.”

Other feedback included: “The museum objects make you think more and surprise yourself.”

“The objects are like a springboard.”

“The group helped me to find new interests; I hated museums before and now I love them.”

For more information about art psychotherapy, please visit www.baat.org and to find out more about art therapy in museums and galleries, please visit www.atmag.org.