Tapping into museums for art psychotherapy: an evaluation of a pilot group for young adults

Alison Coles, Fiona Harrison

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Inspired by evidence that museum objects and environments can contribute to psychotherapeutic aims, two art psychotherapists at 2gether NHS Foundation Trust (a statutory health care organisation in South West England) ran a pilot museum-based art psychotherapy group for seven young adults with severe mental health difficulties. We aimed to harness the potential of museums as socially inclusive, accessible and inspiring venues, as well as a rich source of encounters with objects and environments which could mobilise introspection and meaning-making. We evaluated the group in order to assess therapeutic outcomes and the contribution of the museum setting to these, using quantitative data from outcome measures and qualitative data from the therapy sessions and post-therapy reflective interviews. Overall, the data suggested that the therapy group was beneficial to participants. Participants reported that the museum setting helped them to reflect on feelings and experiences, facilitated interaction between members, encouraged independence, fostered motivation and creativity and helped members to feel valued and connected with the world outside mental health services. These evaluation findings are an encouragement to other art therapists to consider tapping into the therapeutic benefits of this rich cultural resource.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1380056
Pages (from-to)115-124
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Art Therapy
Issue number3
Early online date25 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2018


  • Art therapy
  • art psychotherapy
  • museums
  • galleries
  • adults
  • group
  • mental health


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