CNWL Arts Psychotherapies Service offers assessment and psychological treatment for people with serious mental illnesses referred to specialist mental health services for affective disorders, trauma, psychotic disorders and personality disorders.

The team offers evidence-informed creative therapies using online, face-to-face, individual and group formats. Session frequency and duration in inpatient services are adapted to the context, and in community services would usually be between 12- 60 sessions depending on severity and the aims of the treatment.

They aim to support and develop communication, improve mood, help with feelings of isolation, loneliness and assist people who are experiencing difficulties with communicating their expression. The arts psychotherapies assist in the development of meaningful relationships, independence, wellbeing and social inclusion.

The service is for people who:

  • Are over the age of 18
  • Are a resident of Brent, Kensington, Chelsea, Westminster or Harrow
  • Have been referred to secondary care services
  • Have been diagnosed as and have a presentation of complex (major) depression, trauma, psychotic disorders and/ or a personality disorder.

Referrals are accepted internally from other CNWL services.

To be referred to us you will have:

  • Been diagnosed as and have a presentation of complex (major) depression, trauma, psychotic disorders and/ or a personality disorder.
  • Moderate to severe psychological difficulties
  • a willingness and commitment to therapeutic intervention, including using creative approaches using music, art drama or dance movement.
  • Consented to the referral.

After receiving a referral we will send you a letter to advise you that you have been placed on a waiting list and we will also provide you with a list of useful numbers for you to use if in a crisis and also so that you may explore other self-help opportunities while you wait.

There is a waiting time for treatment. The wait time can vary depending on the treatment pathway that has been identified to best meet your needs

Interventions are closely informed by the following evidence:

NICE: Psychosis and Schizophrenia in Adults CG178

  • Readmission rate audits / service evaluation


  • coherent treatment approach
  • informing patients about the diagnosis and the treatment approach
  • discussing medication
  • group work
  • collaborative and clear risk and care planning
  • preparation for endings and discharge
  • working towards longer term goals



  • receive regular high-quality supervision
  • use routine OMs and makes sure the person with depression is involved in reviewing efficacy of treatment
  • engage in monitoring and evaluation of treatment adherence and practitioner competence – for example, using video and audio tapes, and external audit and scrutiny where appropriate.
  • service User Feedback

NICE Patient Experience in Adult NHS Services: CG 138

  • continuity of care and relationships


Treatment Options



Affective Disorders Pathway (Non-psychosis)

Arts-Based Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy (Music or Art)



24 Sessions

Personality Disorder Pathway (EUPD/ BPD)

Arts-Based Psychoeducation (Music, drama, dance movement  or Art)


12 Group Sessions

Mentalization Based Arts Therapies

(Music or Art)

Group + 1:1

60 Group Sessions

30 1:1 Sessions

Psychosis Pathway


Art Psychotherapy

Music Therapy


Dance Movement Psychotherapy

1:1 / Group

6 – 60 Sessions


Assessments may involve a range of arts or an arts from that the patient feels more comfortable with.

  • Develop shared understanding of presenting risks, issues, triggers and causes
  • Explore recovery, resilience, strengths and protective factors
  • signpost to other services where appropriate or refer on to therapy
  • Assess what therapy would be most helpful


1-4 Sessions

Arts in Health Community Engagement


  • Step-down and support to access mainstream resources
  • Collaborative, recovery-oriented goal setting
  • Facilitate access to mainstream resources
  • Access to ‘arts hub’



1-40 sessions

Supportive Arts Psychotherapies for Carers


  • Reduction in sense of isolation and development of peer support network
  • increased ability to manage difficult feelings and increased resilience
  • improved relationship with loved ones
  • Restoration of hope
  • Opportunity to be creative



Arts-Based Family Interventions

  • Improve family functioning
  • Reduce relapse rates and admissions
  • Increase adherence to treatment
  • Improve discharge
  • planning
  • Improve carers’ experience of services




Treatment is user-focused and for a time-limited period depending on the severity and intensity of the individual’s needs. The length of treatment is discussed with the service user during assessment. Referrals for outpatient treatment require a completed arts psychotherapies referral form stating the reason for treatment with a recent report and risk assessment.

There is no expectation that people need special abilities/experience in the arts to benefit from any of the arts psychotherapies.

Arts psychotherapies are provided in individual and group formats and clinicians are specialised in evidence-based treatments for specific disorders.

CNWL adult arts psychotherapy services are available both to inpatients and outpatients. Within acute settings they can often be the first psychological assessment and treatment a service user encounters and chooses to engage in. There is access to arts psychotherapies in all CNWL triage wards. The service aims to help provide a smooth transition between services: assessment & brief treatment teams, community recovery, rehabilitation and acute.

We also provide services in child and adolescent mental health services (Hillingdon, Kensington & Chelsea, Brent Early Intervention adolescent services), Coombe Wood Mother & Baby Unit, older people and healthy ageing services (across the Trust), eating disorders (inpatient & acute) and offender care units (HMP Holloway and Park Royal Mental Health Centre).

All arts psychotherapists are state registered by the Health Professions Council (HPC).

Arts psychotherapy services are committed to ongoing evaluation and research to ensure provision of an excellent and successful service. They also provide evidenced-based training to clinicians through the International Centre for Arts Psychotherapies Training (ICAPT).

In line with CNWL's vision and values we work in partnership to provide responsive and dependable mental health services for the communities we serve, encouraging recovery, well-being and social inclusion, individual choice and independent living through high quality care.

Please email the service on:

Trust Head of Arts Psychotherapies
Claire Grant
Tel: 07764 966949

Central Arts Psychotherapy Service (Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster)
Central London Arts Psychotherapies Lead: Laura Knight 
Tel: 07834 752825

North West Arts Psychotherapy Service (Brent, Harrow and Hillingdon)
Brent Lead Arts Psychotherapist: Paula Hedderly
Tel: 020 8438 7369

The service is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. Closed on public holidays