Art Therapy for Psychosis: Theory and Practice, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Art Therapy for Psychosis

Theory and Practice, 1st Edition

Edited by Katherine Killick


210 pages

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Art Therapy for Psychosis presents innovative theoretical and clinical approaches to psychosis that have developed in the work of expert clinicians from around the world. It draws on insights that have emerged from decades of clinical practice to explain why and how specialised forms of art therapy constitute a particularly appropriate psychotherapeutic approach to psychosis.

The contributors present a diverse range of current theoretical perspectives on the subject, derived from the fields of neuroscience, phenomenology and cognitive analytic theory, as well as from different schools of psychoanalysis. Collectively, they offer insights into the specific potentials of art therapy as a psychotherapeutic approach to psychosis, and describe some of the specialised approaches developed with individuals and with groups over the past 20 years. Throughout the book, the meaning and relevance of art-making as a medium for holding and containing unbearable, unthinkable and unspeakable experiences within the psychotherapeutic setting becomes apparent. Several of the chapters present detailed illustrated case studies which show how making visual images with an appropriately trained art psychotherapist can be a first step on the path into meaningful relatedness.

This book offers fresh insights into the nature of psychosis, the challenges encountered by clinicians attempting to work psychotherapeutically with people in psychotic states in different settings, and the potentials of art therapy as an effective treatment approach. It will be essential reading for mental health professionals who work with psychosis, including psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists and arts therapists, and those in training.

Full colour versions of the illustrations can be viewed at

Please see p. ix of the book for details of how to access them.


"This book represents a compelling case for contemporary art therapy to have a substantive place in community psychiatry for people who experience psychosis. It contains an impressive range of international contributions with detailed clinical and theoretical accounts, some by psychiatrists.

The book deserves careful attention from practitioners of all mental health disciplines who work with psychosis."

- Dr Brian Martindale, Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist, Past Chair of the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis, Honorary President of the EFPP, Honorary Member of the World Psychiatric Association

"Art therapy began in studios in asylums, many of which housed people experiencing psychosis. It’s come a long way since then. This book shows how, bringing a welcome contemporary and international perspective to art therapy with this client population. Practitioners draw on different kinds of theoretical scaffolding – from phenomenology and cognitive analytical therapy to neurophysiology and psychoanalysis – to develop their approach, unpack how making art becomes a ‘healing agent’ and show how the context and relationship within which this occurs is another. The book shows just how much art therapy now has to offer to the care and treatment of people prone to psychotic states."

- Andrea Gilroy, Emeritus Reader in Art Psychotherapy, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

"I felt touched and inspired by the case narratives that illustrate the role of art therapy in helping patients recover their ability for communication and engagement with others, which is usually profoundly compromised by intolerable psychotic anxieties.

The book powerfully conveys the capacity for art therapy to minimize the requirement for forms of interpersonal relating that are to a greater or lesser extend impossible in psychotic states."

-Swapna Kongara, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Journal

Table of Contents

Introduction: Places for the Mind to Heal 1. The Matrix of the Mind, the Networks of the Brain, and the Principle of Transformation in Art Therapy for Psychosis 2. Psychodynamic art therapy for psychoses: progressive mirror drawing and other sensorial integration techniques3. Shaping Consciousness: Phenomenological Art Therapy with Psychotic Adults 4. The Structured Studio Setting: an Ontological Dimension in Art Therapy with Psychosis using the concept of Body Image as Structuring Function 5.A Lacanian Perspective on Art Therapy with Psychotic Patients 6.The Side-by-Side Approach in art therapy for psychosis: deflation and empowerment within the therapeutic relationship 7. The Three Headed Girl: The Experience of Dialogical Art Therapy Viewed from Different Perspectives 8. An Exploration of Art Therapy Process with a Detainee diagnosed with Schizophrenia in a Correctional Facility with reference to the use of the Comic Strip

About the Editor

Katherine Killick trained as an art therapist and a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. She is a Training Analyst of the Society of Analytical Psychology and a Training and Supervising Analyst of the British Jungian Analytic Association working in private practice. She developed a specialised art-psychotherapeutic approach to psychosis and has published widely in this area. She is co-editor of Art, Psychotherapy and Psychosis with Joy Schaverien and contributes to various clinical trainings in art psychotherapy and Jungian psychoanalysis.

About the Series

The International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis Book Series

ISPS (The International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis) has a history stretching back more than five decades, during which it has witnessed the relentless pursuit of biological explanations for psychosis. This tide has been turning in recent years and there is growing international interest in a range of psychological, social and cultural factors that have considerable explanatory traction and distinct therapeutic possibilities. Governments, professional groups, people with personal experience of psychosis and family members are increasingly exploring interventions that involve more talking and listening. Many now regard practitioners skilled in psychological therapies as an essential component of the care of people with psychosis.

A global society active in at least twenty countries, ISPS is composed of a diverse range of individuals, networks and institutional members. Key to its ethos is that individuals with personal experience of psychosis, and their families and friends, are fully involved alongside practitioners and researchers, and that all benefit from this collaboration.

ISPS’s core aim is to promote psychological and social approaches to understanding and treating psychosis. Recognising the humanitarian and therapeutic potential of these perspectives, ISPS embraces a wide spectrum of therapeutic approaches from psychodynamic, systemic, cognitive, and arts therapies, to need-adapted and dialogical approaches, family and group therapies and residential therapeutic communities. A further ambition is to draw together diverse viewpoints on psychosis and to foster discussion and debate across the biomedical and social sciences, including establishing meaningful dialogue with practitioners and researchers who are more familiar with biological-based approaches. Such discussion is now increasingly supported by empirical evidence of the interaction of genes and biology with the emotional and social environment especially in the fields of trauma, attachment, social relationships and therapy.

Ways in which ISPS pursues its aims include international and national conferences, real and virtual networks, and publication of the journal Psychosis. The book series is intended to complement these activities by providing a resource for those wanting to consider aspects of psychosis in detail. It now also includes a monograph strand primarily targeted at academics. Central to both strands is the combination of rigorous, in-depth intellectual content and accessibility to a wide range of readers. We aim for the series to be a resource for mental health professionals of all disciplines, for those developing and implementing policy, for academics in the social and clinical sciences, and for people whose interest in psychosis stems from personal or family experience. We hope that the book series will help challenge excessively biological ways of conceptualising and treating psychosis through the dissemination of existing knowledge and ideas and by fostering new interdisciplinary dialogues and perspectives.

For more information about ISPS, email [email protected] or visit our website,  

For more information about the journal Psychosis visit

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychotherapy / General