UK art Therapy Practice-based Guidelines for Children and Adults with Learning Disabilities

Simon S. Hackett
Liz Ashby
Karen Parker
Sandra Goody
Nicki Power


Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art media as its primary mode of communication. Having skill and experience in art is not a pre-requirement for people to benefit from art therapy. Making art work can offer the opportunity for expression and communication within a psychological therapy for people who find it difficult to express their thoughts and feelings verbally, and it is an accessible approach for children and adults with learning disabilities. An estimated 20% of art therapists working in the UK have some involvement with children or adults who have learning disabilities. These clinical practice guidelines were devised within the UK by the British Association of Art Therapists. A guideline development group was formed by the Learning Disability Special Interest Group and a national consultation was carried out among its membership. Ten overarching guideline recommendations for clinical practice were identified, namely ‘working relationships’, ‘communication’, ‘support networks’, ‘managing risk and vulnerability’, ‘establishing therapy agreements’, ‘assessment, formulation, and therapeutic goals’, ‘working creatively and flexibly’, ‘working psychotherapeutically’, ‘monitoring progress’ and ‘professional responsibilities and self-care’. The published art therapy practice-based guidelines for children and adults with learning disabilities are an example of a clinical consensus on current best practice in the UK.

Resource/Research Type:
Resource Type: Journal Article
Document Details:
Author: Simon S. Hackett, Liz Ashby, Karen Parker, Sandra Goody , Nicki Power
Journal: International Journal of Art Therapy
Publisher Details:
Audio/Video Details:
Subjects: Art therapy
Medical Conditions: Disabilities