MA Art Psychotherapy graduate, Ben Gage, is passionate about art therapy and how it can help all sections of the population. Since graduating he has set up the Bristol Men’s Art Therapy Service and receives invitations to give lectures about this work.
"After graduating from the USW MA Art Psychotherapy course I contacted St Mungo’s men’s crisis house to offer weekly art therapy groups. This soon developed into a 12-month pilot project that saw me delivering group and individual sessions to men across Bristol. Through the reputation of the project I was put in contact with a soon-to-be-opening private practice, and we collaborated to create a bespoke art therapy space where I now run the Bristol Men’s Art Therapy Service.
I chose to extend my final USW clinical placement (in an acute inpatient ward) in order to trial new ways of working with the staff and patient groups. I also volunteered my time to support a senior art therapist running an early intervention psychosis mentalisation group, to further develop my skills and experience. Due, in part, to these experiences and my work with St Mungo’s, I was offered a 6-month contract to develop art therapy provision in an NHS recovery ward in Devon. This contract has been extended and developed several times and I currently offer art therapy across inpatient and community settings.
Through the reputation of my men’s work I have been offered a number of guest lecturing opportunities at universities and training programs. I am also currently collaborating with several organisations to develop new men’s services across Bristol and Devon over the coming months.
I am passionate about the work I do; I believe art therapy can offer a unique and valuable approach to healing. My primary focus is on creating safe, confidential spaces for men, de-stigmatising vulnerability and challenging harmful masculine socialisation through embodied art-making in the presence of other men. In time, I hope to develop the Bristol Men’s Art Therapy Service into a self-sustaining model that allows individuals to access the service regardless of their financial situation.
My experience of the USW MA Art Psychotherapy training was powerful and transformational. It offered me a truly unique opportunity to challenge myself emotionally and intellectually under the guidance of skilled lecturers. I am fortunate to have kept in touch with the majority of our cohort with whom I have continued to host annual art exhibitions."