Why does Art Therapy not embrace the use of crafts and why we should? How do I do it in my practice


think i need to start with what is art and what is craft


Art according to the dictionary

Art is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

What is craft according to the dictionary

an activity involving skill in making things by hand.

I So what is arts and crafts the directory does not give a definition so here is mine

Art and craft is forms of creativity and an expression of emotions which results in an outcome. It is a creative works produced by human creative skill and imagination.


Are both not woven together does a artist/ crafter not use both. why is there a difference when did this divide happen?


This argument has been going on since 1851 when the crafts movement began in Britain and has influenced the decades from it. Another consideration is the fact that you needed to be trained in the arts which mean traditional trained in painting etc meant has also not helped the case for crafts in therapy. So the fact that art therapy was fighting to be seen as a profession and not just arts and crafts classes is another thing from the past. We are establish now ok a lot of people still don’t know what we are about but it is getting there and the fact that doctors are starting to prescribe arts and leisure activities is very much going to benefit us so we should put all these barriers of the past behind us and start thinking and exploring all areas of art all areas of self expression there is not a one size fits all so we should explore our creative world and bring more to our practice


“Why we enjoy these things is a different question. Weaving is a very ancient art and goes back to the dawn of human life on earth. It is built into the human nervous system; it is an urge in our brains and our fingers. To give it expression brings us keen pleasure, and also an “escape” from the distresses or the hum-drum detail of our daily lives. And the value of this escape in hard and cruel times like the present can hardly be overestimated.”

—Mary M. Atwater, “The Weaver”,

July-Aug, 1941, vol. VI #3, p. 13


I have looked at the area of crafts in my research as there isn’t many artical and research about weaving. But if you think about weaving and textiles has been part of our history. Weaving is tied into history we have been doing it for 100s of years used for clothing woven from that land held communities hand made carried a story brought people together connected to our ancestors brought warmth sustainability has a story has both been industrial and commercial in ireland we grew processed spun and wove lenin which we then sold but alongside farmer had sheep they cared for proudly sheared scoured spun sometime dyed and hand woven each person had a task this was made for the home blankets clothes bags for food some families had there own patterns this can be seen with fishermen which was used to identify a man who had gone overboard. We then repaired and reused what we had knitting sewing darnarding felting it has all been done my hand all done in the home settling and was a normal skill set to carry throughout your life. These tasks where seasonal practical meaningfull gave people identify a purpose a physical item of their dedication people took pride in what they had done and could be completed by anyone.


My workshop is like this each person having purpose a task an identity valued and proud of what they do. So we can do it in today’s world but what does it mean now we don’t learn or do these things at school they are not passed down through the generations we just buy them. So where does crafts fit into the world today and how can they be used in therapy to connect a person to the land and themselves how can weaving give someone an identity how could they use it for themselves?


Art therapy is behind and has very little research on this area it is starting to come to the fort front. Oppaction thearpy is a few steps ahead but it also need developed


(add photo) Making and doing crafts can contributes to personal development, stimulates people’s senses and generates positive energy, happiness and satisfaction.https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1194&context=ojot


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Mr. Ashok Pai says, working with handloom had improved the psycho-motor coordination of the inmates and thereby it brought about qualitative changes in their health. The coherence between their body and mind had improved. Moreover, involvement in productive activity had boosted their confidence


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The analysis revealed that crafts provided recreation, satisfaction, optimism, positive relationships, and support as well as helped participants to cope with negative feelings. Crafts served as a leisure-coping resource and a leisure-based coping strategy.


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crafting may serve to take advantage of simple life pleasures. Success in working with

one’s hands had been rewarding on such a

deep level that it had created a desire

to do something similar again, even the same kind of products with familiar and

well-managed techniques. These participants made crafts that were measured as

successfully finished according to their wishes. For them, the activity itself, doing

with hands, was also identified as a source of satisfaction.

craft makers also described how a difficult life situation had inspired

them to be involved with more challenging craft projects. This required new

skills, innovative design, and problem solving. This kind of activity enabled

the craft makers to push their bodies and minds to the extreme to accomplish

something worthwhile. Crafting was relieving the feelings of sickness, pain, or

sorrow so that the negative feelings would not control their lives and visions

of the future. The satisfaction gained through crafting and looking forward to

new projects had helped them to rely on the future. This positive enjoyment

maintained their optimism and helped them prepare for uncertainty.



low vision, low endurance, sequencing, fine motor coordination, making choices and exercising control, sensory components, building self-efficacy, and a multitude of other psychosocial and emotional needs. The crafts appeared to present opportunities for clients to explore meaningful roles, especially when facing challenges that required adaptation to a new living situation or disability.https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1194&context=ojot  



“…creativity is the capacity to meet and engage fully with our environment, making of it something that is uniquely our own” (page 132). Griffiths (2008) concluded from a grounded theory‐based study that creative activities could give experiences of flow – a state of total involvement in activity giving a sense of control and purpose (Csikszentmihalyi and Csikszentmihalyi 1988).


What could you feel or experience when weaving

    • Rhythm
    • Pace
    • Calm
    • Warm


    • Comfort


    • Peaceful


    • Adaptable


    • Forgiving


    • Personal to me


    • A physical representation of how i feel tight dense weave loss weave colourful dull intericat


    • Flow


    • Engrossing


    • To lose oneself in the process


    • Enchanting of what you can create with yarn and colour using your hand body


    • Patience


    • Texture soft, rough, smooth, slippy, fluffy


    • Thin thick strong fragile


    • Warm cold


    • Achievement that you made it


    • A physical product of your choices


    • Problem solving


    • Create meaning


    • Weaving has a purpose


    • balance between skill and challenge.


    • Choice


    • decision making,


    • touch,


    • Visual


    • smell


    • creating a calm space to do it,


    • getting into a flow


    • go from learning to just doing using your hands


    • making to your taste and senses an


    • extended part of you


    • it is free to become and


    • can be independent in the making process has the scope to become something else


    • creating and recreating


    • it can trap embody encapsulate cocoon protect contain


    • Beautify an object ot self


  • adorn an environments


In my practice as a clinical psychologist, the women I see typically do not consider

themselves to be artists when creating textiles. Instead they

regard their work as practical, useful, possibly attractive, and

maybe a little artistic, but certainly not “professional.”




So what do I do with my clients. Our workshop is all about creating an identity and a purpose in life it is different from day care as where we care for the client and make sure they are physically looked after we are day opportunities so we are promoting the client to be indepent we are supporting them to make their own decisions do things out of their own will.  


Each person has there own workspace and loom which no one else can use with their permission because the work is not confidual it is not locked away but there is an option for it to be locked away if the client wishes we don’t lock things away as we encourage each person to respect each others space if you want to use the colour the person is using to ask them have a conversation which helps build relationships


Each person work is individual to them it is the client’s choice of what they want to make how long how wide what colours what it made into we usual start with painting using whatever medium the client chooses they then choose their favourite and we go up stairs to the treasure room which is where all the yarn and fabric is kept and match yarn to their painting i then use this to design and make the warp we dress the loom and then it is back to the client what pattern they want to use within reason if it is not achievable for them i will discuss an alternative that is simpler but manageable


When the client is  not weaving we have many options of what they can do weave on bicycle wheel, frames, sew, embroidery, dye, knit, eco print, natural dye, make seasonal items, print, drew, paint, use peg loom, make turtles from there wheels, make labels for there work. All this work is based on what the person whats to do this work is usual used then in making an item


There is no time pressure on the clients it takes as long as it takes I have clients that will weave 9m in 1 month I have other clients that take 2 years to weave 9m as long as each person is enjoying there work and wants to do it


So we are all in the weavery as a group but all have our own work to do we are together socially and creatively strong friendships have been made each person has a great understanding of each other and is able to support each other when someone is having a bad day everyone celebrates each others achievements and helps each other when things don’t work out each person is heard respected and has a role to play. I’m really only there to support and make sure conversation etc are appropriate and manage challenging behaviour


Roles people play laundry for the bakery we have tea break together with weavery and bakery and each workshop takes turn to prepare it for each other, cleaning up around your loom, helping someone to move their loom on, one person weaves a shell and the next sews working together to make using the strong skills that each person has, helping to tweedle a scarf that an colleague has made, doing the washing up, everyone is promoted to help and be part of the workshop as much as they feel they can.


The one thing with my workshop is that everything that is made is made into some sort of product tea towels, stuffed animals, bags, scarfs, blankets, hats etc etc these are then sold which helps with the person’s identity as they are not making something for the sake of it they get to talk to visitors get to man some of the pop up shop we have been in attend of of the craft fairs they get to talk to the public and very proudly tell them about their work and what they do you can see the pride oozing out of them then they say they bought my work they like my work they talked to me I did that this gives my clients so much joy and pride to know that they are with other artist in this realm they don’t have a disability they are free from it they are a creative person taking joy in there work we are all artists.


What process does each person to go through in their own way

    • Paint a picture to discover their colours or just choosing what they fancy ot from a magazine


    • Get to match their painting to yarn


    • Decide what size length they want there warp


    • Continue on with another off the loom project while I make warp and set up loom


    • Back to the weaver choose a pattern


    • Choose their weft colours


    • How much of that colour to weave


    • When to change


    • Finish warp


    • Cut it off and roll it up


    • What is it going to be


    • Help make pattern and match fabric and button of the item it will become


  • Gets to be part of the selling process and usual talk to customer


Is this art therapy well it’s called social therapy as we are looking to clutive life skills but it is thearpic the weavery is calm peaceful a place people feel safe a place clients feel they can express them self clients have been able to talk about an issue through doing their work. The clients have a voice of how the workshop should be run which is why every tuesday we have a coffee morning why every 3 months we have a movie afternoon, why we decorate the tearoom for holidays eg christmas and the clients are allowed to do it as it is there space. It is a wonderful place to work and be part of.


I also teach a QCF level 1,2,3 in creative crafts when i took this on i made a very conscious decision that i will not be a classroom nor will i teach. I will support the client to complete the cretia in there own way. Case study


This client has communication skills but chooses to be non verbal at times if she does not want to do something or talk trained response is yes no i don’t know. Is usual on the outskirts of a social activity does not start a conversation feels compelled to do what she is told. Can suffer from a lot of anxiety.


So what did we do I let the client choose their theme Nature on the riverwalk how are you going to do it take photos to start so taugh client how to use a camera then we went for a walk and let client have the freedom to take what every photos they wanted did not communicate was just present there with them. Got their photos onto computer a smile coming from their face and very easily pointed to what they wanted printed them. The client then took these away to the conor or the room and started to drew and paint their photos by their self was open to me coming over to see gradual over the space of 2 months came to the table in the middle of the room with her other colleagues who looked and commented on their work more smiling and slowly they started to talk to each person they started to come on time take part in conversations make decisions quicker and easier began to be able to talk about their work evental started to do art work without using a photo but from their memory they started to be interested in different artists and look through magazine and bring them to me to show me twhat they found and want to do this also helped them with their problem solving which became better as we would discuis maybe how it was done they where more open to experimenting and voicing if they wanted to do something or not.


What did I learn it gave the client focus it gave the client a way to show us how they seen the world it helped the client communicate to us it built a better relationship with everyone in the room it empowered the client to make a decision it motivated the client to come to work it gave client a space outside of her head where she could be with other people it helped client make new friendships. This activity was not art therapy and was not its intention but every client i have worked with has got so much out of it because it was allowed to be personal to them they got to lead it they got to choose. And this is all thought using crafts so i am back to my question why do we not use more crafts in art therapy? The environment i work in is very similar to an art therapy environment the benefits to the client are huge ok it wont work for everyone but that is why we are person centred and cater everything to the needs of each client. We need to be empowered as therapist to move away from traditional mediums and explore the huge world of the arts art therapy can be any art as long as we approach it in a therapeutic way with the client being at the centre of it. The weaving i do myself can be technical and skilled but when you stripe it back to the basics it’s achievable for anyone. Where my work is at the minute is back using the basic skills and it is enjoyable to just be engrossed in the process rather that remebering where i am in a complated pattern.  


practitioners have traditionally focused on media used in the fine arts (e.g. crayons, markers,

paints); as such, they have inevitably reinforced the distinction between crafts and the fine

arts (Moon,2010) we argue for the use of crafting techniques as a tool that art therapists could integrate

into their practice as a way to: encourage self-expression, reduce anxieties among patients

about “not being creative,” a tool for self-care, and a means to integrate traditional and folk

forms of expression into art therapy practice. The goal in art therapy is the experience of art

making with an art therapist as the source of healing many individuals might not identify as

“artists,”  instead they  would actively  engage in crafting  activities which could  serve

as  a doorway to reducing anxiety about artistic abilities.


Crafts could be the window an art thearpist needs to start a client on there journey



So to conclude Yes crafts can be thearpic i have looked at it from the view of weaving as that is my profession and is what i the base of my workshops are about but we as therapist need to think outside the box and not be confined by what the world has told us is weaving in its base form weaving is over under its linking materials together intertwining around each item to become one piece it is not limited to what material that you can use or what scale that is desired it can be a single client project or made into a group/ community project what finish more pieces can be sewn glued tied onto it it can be used to make another piece. So the answer to my other question yes weaving is creative and the limits are in our imagination to make it work.


What skills would be need to use this technique with a client we person centred and open to the materials that they want to use to express themselves we may have to initiately show the technique we need to let go of the right and wrong that is written in weaving books we need to forget about the big expensive bulky loom we could encourage the client to make there own loom so they are really creating the whole process. We need to be aware that the materials that the person chooses may have significant to that person so we also need to be trauma informed as it may be hard for example for a person to cut up a shirt of a love one and may not be at the place where they can take apart and resamale. We need to trust in the process if it falls apart that’s ok maybe in the falling apart will help the person work through an emotion of failure to keep working at it and it will transform into something else. Weaving can include may other textile techniques and become a mix media outcome. The weaving process could have a symbol of weaving in an emotion that can be held there until the client is ready to unravel it again it could be a safe object to contain what it is until it can be processed and worked through. But is all about being in the process in that moment using your hands and seeing it move through the stages. Weaving can be as simple and complicated as the client desires but from reflection for people new to weaving they found the most simple achievable techniques the most beneficial as they could make it there own and put their stamp on it.


Artist that use weaving in there work



Sharon Kallis Working in several parallel areas; indoor-studio based, outdoor-site specific response as well as in a community engaged installation practice, my focus shifts with what is seasonally at hand.



We are artists, makers and educators who believe that bringing people together to share creative projects that connect us with the land helps our communities become strong, resilient and just.

Founded as an arts-based non-profit in 2013, EartHand Gleaners Society’s specialty is connecting makers with materials that come directly from the land around them; we model ‘How to be a Producer without first being a Consumer’. By working with the plants around us using ancestral skills common to all cultures, we inspire participants to discover cultural connections, learn new skills, and discover novel sources of raw materials for creative practices, including garden waste, invasive plants, and textile waste.


Bonnie Tarses is a textile designer specializing in one-of-a-kind and custom handwoven textiles since 1960. From the time she began her weaving journey, she was drawn to the color symbolism in all ethnic textiles. “I continue to be amazed by the fact that weavers of old attached special meaning to the placement of every thread.”



Interwoven, held in October, 2017, was a series of four workshops held at Rosewood Zaragosa Neighborhood Center.

Through Interwoven, a designated community art space was created for people to come together to weave. Interwoven is a visual representation of connection and interconnection in our community. Throughout the project, participants would work on weaving one piece and the next week work on another. Interwoven was a truly collaborative project.



WARP’s mission is to foster a global network of enthusiasts who value the importance of textiles to grassroots economies. Our purpose is to exchange information, raise awareness of the importance of textile traditions to grassroots economies, mobilize textile enthusiasts and create conversations that result in action. Our network is made up of weavers, academics, and interested supporters who value the importance of textiles to communities around the world.



It is a way of thinking about, buying and wearing clothes to ensure they bring meaning, value and joy to every day. It is based on the premise that clothes do for us on the outside what food does inside. They warm and protect our bodies, and influence the way we feel and present to the world. What is this up cyling making your own adapoting your clothing to your needs expressing your self being orginal learning skills using what you have passing skills on comminivation coming together to create.



‘Lightbulbs’ were most often produced by experiencing innovative art, being part of the art-making process, and being exposed to people engaged in the arts – including personal recruitment.



Mr. Ashok Pai says, working with handloom had improved the psycho-motor coordination of the inmates and thereby it brought about qualitative changes in their health. The coherence between their body and mind had improved. Moreover, involvement in productive activity had boosted their confidence



The artists at the exhibition represent a new wave of Finnish, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian design that challenges the aesthetics and principles of Scandinavian modernism. Their works emphasize the role of the maker as well as the narrative potential and the process of art crafting and reject the sleek elegance and mass production of the modernist movement.




Community weaving how we could do it you can use any material so in a therapy context items that are personal to client they can cut it up and recreate it make say a shirt into a cushion a rug a piece for there coat so that they can easier carry a memory with them they can


Community project using crochet to make run down area more appling



Yarn boming the action or activity of covering objects or structures in public places with decorative knitted or crotcheted material, as a form of street art.

“yarn bombing has become increasingly popular as a way to brighten up our surroundings”


Weaving ideas





What else can be done

    • Weaving with branches


    • Weaving with old clothes


    • Weaving with nature


    • Weaving around trees


    • Between swinging


    • Weaving between legs of a chair


    • Anything that you can wind a warp around


    • Using any material you have at hand


    • Weaving can be as small or big as desired


  • Weaving with paper


What project can be done with weaving could be

-part of eco art therapy.

– Using a clients loved clothes to recreate something new

– making an item that will be of comfort to client

– creating something from a pile of recycled material

– what can you use well old bicycle wheels, embroidery hoops, hula hoops, picture frames, branches, willow

– it can be any shape


Yes weaving is a craft it is an industrial technique but it can also be a way for a person to use their imagination to recreate something that they thought was usualess unsalvageable is a way so beginning able to create something new which could link to them thinking differently in there everyday lives there is a physical item that shows there achievement shows there thought process it will need patience and thought of what the person wants

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