Trainee art therapists using the Ben Uri collection to support older people in care settings.


Starting with Art is an art therapy based programme with three key partners; an art therapy trainee, a care or community setting working with older people and Ben Uri Gallery. The programme answers a growing need for universities to find trainee placement opportunities, whilst also responding to a lack of wellbeing support within an underfunded health and social care sector. In turn, the Gallery is able to meet it’s charitable objective; to use the collection for the greatest public benefit, reaching out to new audiences. 


Incorporating artworks into art therapy practice is unique to the Ben Uri placement format. Thirty key artworks from the collection provide a stimulus to the trainee’s art therapy work, and have been carefully selected across a range of criteria including; colour, genre and popularity. Trainees also conduct ongoing evaluations, qualitatively observing the impact of working with artworks, and noticing which works are most conducive to therapeutic work. 


Established in 2014, Ben Uri now works with ten trainees annually across Hertfordshire and Roehampton universities. Trainees work on site with their partner organisation over ten months. Each trainee is placed with a different care or community setting for the duration of their placement offering free group and 1:1 art therapy sessions to those who will most benefit from them. For the 2020-21 the programme is broadening this offer to include essential support for care staff as we deal with the ongoing impact of Covid-19. 


To ensure this time spent together enjoying the collection constitutes a lasting benefit, trainees are encouraged to share the complementary BUAH programme Ways into Art, with those staff who have supported their placement. Support for care staff in accessing these pre-prepared resources and training tutorials turns their experience and time investment into skills, offering a way for the Ben Uri benefit to remain long after the placement concludes.



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