Is there a lack of art therapists in England?

Whilst conducting interviews and travelling up the country to try and obtain interviewees, I’ve seen a recurring trend on my art therapy journey. There appears to be a severe lack of art therapists, as I’ve been told, and I’ve noticed this particularly in the North in smaller, isolated towns and villages. Now, this is fairly obvious, as rural areas are never going to be densely populated by art therapists, are they?

More specifically, I travelled to Scunthorpe, and had a look around for available art therapists and saw that there were none within a massive radius, the nearest being in the city of Hull. And this is not only in areas like Scunthorpe, but several others similar to it. Why is this?

It makes sense, as cities are always going to have larger numbers of just about any professional, but it does bring up the question as to whether or not we need more art therapists in these kind of areas. Areas such as Scunthorpe and Chester (another place severely lacking in art therapists, that I’m visiting), are not exactly small rural villages with a tiny community, they are very large towns with a pretty big population. So surely, it would make more sense to bring in more people dedicated to these forms of therapy, particularly as they have proved very useful in bigger cities, so why not bring them into large towns such as these, where they are incredibly scarce or even non-existent?

Every area has its fair share of addicts, people with mental health problems, physical disabilities etc. that need as much care as those in bigger cities. Places such as Bournemouth, another large town that actually has an infamous amount of drug rehabs, still have a whole range of different therapists at its disposal. This might be a coincidence or it might be the whole reason it brings more therapists to the area, to help those in need. But why don’t other places like Scunthorpe or Chester have any art therapists for miles and miles, but others have them practically on their doorsteps?

The real answer: funding. This is what it comes down to in the cities as well, as they aren’t exempt from poor funding. And it shows. The aforementioned areas are missing out on what could possibly be essential help. I say this, because I believe that regular therapy may not appeal to everyone and can also be very expensive, if you want to have an in-depth look in a one-on-one environment. This also presents a problem in itself, as a lot of people who may need therapy won’t have the money in the first place to afford it.

A lot of art psychotherapists do their work without a patient having to spend a penny, meaning that a lot of effective work can be done in sessions in a cheap, cost effective way. The only way these art therapists can continue doing this is by funding from particular sources, such as charitable organisations, healthcare, education sectors and social services, but a lot of the time this is not enough to hold them up.

I keep returning to this subject, but for good reason, as I believe that more should be put into art therapy and other forms of therapy. This would therefore mean a greater influx of art therapists emerging in these smaller areas, where it could prove incredibly useful and maybe even life changing. Therapies like this cannot wholly stick to relying on their current sources to fund how they work. And for those who may want to try it to get the help they really need, they may never get it because art therapists are so far and few between in some areas of England.

A re-evaluation of the situation wouldn’t go amiss. A suggestion that is worth a good think about.


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