What is Arts Therapy?

Arts therapy is a type of creative arts therapy that is based on the idea that creativity enhances wellbeing.  It's a psychotherapeutic approach that uses different modalities to promote the emotional, social, cognitive, physical, and cultural (including spiritual) functioning of a person.

How does art therapy work?

Creative processes are used to help a person explore and express unconscious material that may be difficult to articulate in words. It is based on the connection between body and mind and recognises that change and growth in one areas supports change and growth in the other.

Art therapists help their clients improve cognitive and sensorimotor function, foster self-esteem and body image, develop effective communication skills and relationships, expand their movement vocabulary, gain insight into patterns of behaviour and create new options for coping with problems.

Art therapists combine their specialist knowledge with skills of psychotherapy, counselling and rehabilitation to help individuals with a wide variety of treatment needs.

Arts modalities include:

  • Visual Art (drawing, painting, sculpture)
  • Drama Therapy
  • Sand play
  • Music
  • Narrative and storytelling
  • Creative writing and poetry

What does art therapy help with?

Art therapy is effective at helping people living with:

  • Trauma and its symptoms i.e. anxiety, depression, body image, relationship difficulties, PTSD, and trauma 
  • Developmental delays, learning difficulties, autism and related disorders
  • Adoption issues, attachment issues, couple/relationship issues
  • Physical disorders e.g. movement restrictions, chronic pain
  • Mental health conditions including addictions, eating disorders, anger management
  • Neurological disorders e.g. Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and bereavement

A person's needs may be supported through group or individual art therapy sessions and in many types of settings e.g. private clinics, hospitals, schools, aged-care facilities. 

Dance & Arts Therapy NZ offers clinical group and individual therapy programmes throughout the country. You don't need to have any artistic knowledge to benefit from this therapy. Find out about the types of creative arts therapy programmes we offer at DTNZ Programmes.

Person engaging in art therapy


1. I’m interested in a programme, what do I do now?

If your think that the STARS or Arts 4 Us SPECIALITY programme is right for your child/teen:

  • Make an enquiry through the website or email admin@dancetherapy.co.nz or phone: 096363029
  • Our administrator will contact you to find out some basic information 
  • You will be emailed a registration form (or you can fill this out on our website) – this gives us more detailed information about your child/teen and their history. This helps the therapist during the assessment to understand your child/teens needs better.
  • If a group is potentially available your child/teen will be required to attend an assessment. This is 30-60 minutes long, usually at the venue where the programme will take place and with the Therapist running the programme. The assessment is a chance for the therapist to understand your child’s needs, for your child to try out some new activities that are offered during the sessions and for you to ask any questions.
  • Following the assessment the Therapist will talk to you about:
    * the group that would be most appropriate for your child, or 
    the need for your child to begin with individual or DYAD/TRIAD session
  • If a group is not currently available (eg. Sometimes we get enquiries for children/teens who are too young/old to join with a group we currently have), you will be offered an assessment for an individual therapy programme or you can ask to be placed on our waiting list (in case a group becomes available that meets your child’s needs). We try and stay in touch with carers/parents on the waiting list on a termly basis.
  • Prior to joining a group you will be asked to complete a consent form.


If you think that the Arts 4 Us drop in or Dance for Us is right for you or your child/teen: 

  • Make an enquiry through the website or email admin@dancetherapy.co.nz or phone: 096363029. We can answer your questions and let the therapist know you are likely to attend.
  • Simply ‘drop in’ on the correct day/time – see programme calendar for these.
2. How much do the programme’s cost?

Our current programme costs are as follows:

Dance 4 Us (adult drop in classes) – gold coin koha

Arts 4 Us general (for school aged children living in the community of programme) – free

STARS $225 (incl gst)/term (8 weeks)

Arts 4 Us specialty $225 (incl gst)/term (8 weeks)

3. Is there any help with these costs?

Carer Support: 
If you receive carer support you can designate the cost of an hour of this to the dance/arts therapy session.  Bring your form along for the therapist to sign.  You claim this money directly.

Individual funding: 
If your child/teen has been Needs Assessed and has Home and Community Support Services or a Respite allocation you may wish to discuss with your assessor Individual Funding.  This allows you to decide who/how this funding is spent.  You can use part of the funding towards the cost of therapy/a programme.  This option can be discussed with Taikura Trust.

Contact us at clients@dancetherapy.co.nz to learn how you can use your Individualised Funding and Carer Support/I Choose with DTNZ

Disability Allowance subsidised counselling
If you are receiving the disability allowance through WINZ (Work and Income New Zealand) you may be eligible for subsidised counselling.  If you are not currently receiving to check if you meet their income criteria click here

Assistance is provided for counselling if the need for counselling is directly related to a person’s disability.  You, your doctor and your therapist (who must be a member of the New Zealand Arts Therapy Association - ANZACATA) will need to fill out the Disability Certificate - Counselling (download the form here).

From time to time we become aware of possible avenues to assist with therapy costs.  We will endeavour to keep you informed of these.  Click on   possible funding sources to aid parents 

Links:  (click) 
Taikura Trust

Jubilee Trust

Variety Club

Halberg Trust Activity Fund Grant

Wilson Home Trust Equipment and Activity Grant

Cerebral Palsy Society

Extraordinary Care Fund

4. I don’t speak English well; can you help?

We are lucky enough to have therapists who speak a range of languages (eg. Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, English).  If you need help with initial communication let us know.

5. I/my child is blind; is dance and arts therapy still possible?


6. I/my child is deaf; is dance and arts therapy still possible?