‘Being time’: an exploration of personal experiences of time and implications for art psychotherapy practice

Alison Coles

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This heuristic, art-based study looks at how experiences of time might affect the practice of art psychotherapy. The author's art-making related to various ways of experiencing time which have particular relevance to art psychotherapy practice: presence, marking time, being in time, containing time and making time. The research yielded three main insights. Firstly, thinking about time as intimately linked to space seems to be a valuable perspective on therapeutic work, in terms of: considering therapeutic presence as a spatial ‘ground’ for the temporal marking of moments; imagining and attuning to the shape and gestural quality of a moment; and creating ‘containers’ in which to hold client and therapist in the ‘now’. Secondly, an existing theoretical framework of different organisational experiences of time provided a valuable perspective on how using different art materials affected how time was experienced, and suggests that further research applying this framework to art-making within art psychotherapy could be productive. Finally, this study can be seen as evidence for the value of heuristic, art-based research in informing art psychotherapy practice, and suggests that a therapist's personal sense of temporal agency, of ‘being time’, enhances the capacity to work with experiences of time within therapy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)71-81
    Number of pages11
    JournalInternational Journal of Art Therapy
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2013


    • temporal experience
    • art psychotherapy
    • therapeutic presence
    • therapeutic attunement
    • heuristic research
    • art-based research


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