On a rainy December night in a little Thai restaurant in London last year, Marian Liebmann talked to me about her path as an art therapist and her current position in the field.
DR: Marian, you’ve worked in a wide range of areas including education, probation and art therapy. You’ve been on the art therapy ‘scene’ for years now in the UK. What sort of developments have you seen over this time?
ML: Well, there have been many changes and developments over the years. Art therapy is much better known now – when I give short courses on art therapy (which I do for Bristol University Counselling Department) and ask what people already know about art therapy, it’s often quite a lot – or they’ve worked in a team with an art therapist. However, it’s still uphill work in my main job with the Inner City Mental Health Service because the two consultants there happen to be very medically oriented.
There are now over 1000 full members of the British Association of Art Therapists, though not all of them have jobs, and many of those who do are part-time. One thing that is beginning to happen as art therapy grows is that specialisation is beginning to happen, and there are networks for people working in different areas. For instance, it’s hard to get to work with kids unless you have already worked in that field. There’s beginning to be more work with offenders in secure units, palliative care, and a whole range of new fields. Art therapy work in schools is increasing. There are also a huge number of books available, very wide-ranging, due to the publishers Jessica Kingsley and Routledge.