Art Therapy is a form of Psychotherapy that crosses boundaries of language, communication, age and culture. No previous art skills are required for art therapy to be of benefit. There is no wrong way to make art in art therapy and I have worked with people from the age of 3 – 102 so far.
I became an art therapist after a period of ill health in my late teens and again in my early twenties that led me to discover and have Art Therapy for myself. I was so impressed by the fusion of creative and emotional energy that was the essence of art therapy that I realised, this was what I wanted to be. It was a meandering path to becoming one but in 1992, age 31, I qualified with a Post Graduate diploma from Sheffield University. Back home in my little attic flat in Birmingham I felt exhausted for the first 6 months and it was only while watching breakfast TV one day, when I heard a news item that stated we needed more mental health professionals in prisons that I thought ”ah, is that me”. A quick check of the diploma on the mantelpiece and I was straight on the phone to the local prison, Winson Green. Within months I was running my first Art Therapy group in the hospital wing.
I stumbled upon BCAT when I gate crashed their open day just as the founder, Angela, was planting a tree. I was invited to set up the first BCAT Art Therapy room at Lindsworth School and the first clients arrived in February 1994. It was an exciting time, connecting to people from other disciplines and beginning to find my own way of working.
I became Head of Art Therapy in 1996, the same year I started running Experiential courses for the public at BCAT. That role no longer exists, due to BCAT restructuring but I am still here, offering sessional art therapy for them. During Lockdown I set up a series of Zoom seminars/talks for the Art Therapy team and its been a very productive period. Much of my work is still currently online, working via Zoom or skype or other video media but gradually we are beginning to open up to face to face work again and to get back in schools but making sure we are Covid 19 safe.
Art Therapy is different each time as each person brings a unique experience of the world with them. I can’t imagine ever getting tired of it. I have worked around the world, in Kazakhstan, Denmark, France and New Zealand doing Art therapy at some point. I currently work with adults and children, in 1:1 or group sessions, run courses for the public, hold my own caseload with BCAT and privately, and offer Supervision to students in training and therapists in practice. I can be contacted via BCAT.
Julie Buxton has an MA Creative Writing, Post Graduate Diploma in Art Therapy, Is HCPC Registered, a BAAT Approved Supervisor, has a Telephone counselling certificate, Certificate in solution Focussed Therapy, and much more. She is currently training as a Mindfulness Teacher and painting pictures of the sea.
As an artist, my love for cultures, travel and the arts led and inspired me to work in Tanzania, Thailand, Bosnia, Hungary, and Croatia, exploring social, economic, class, ethnicity, and gender topics. I have witnessed the power of the arts to; transform, unite, empower, heal, give internal and external insight, and to educate.
Art is a universal language that surpasses verbal dialects, culture, religion, race, classes, and gender. It can explore and communicate difficult subjects to challenge our views and ourselves. As they say, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ and it is these reasons I was led to study Art Psychotherapy. With every client-patient experience I provided culturally sensitive personalized art therapy, both directive and non-directive experiences to meet each of my clients and group’s needs. Art therapy enables individuals to tell their stories, express often traumatic and difficult emotions through their artwork, when words are not enough.
I feel and am privileged to go on the journey with them and be a witness to their story and transformation.