Case studies have formed an important role in the development of art therapy theory, having a central place in the training of art therapists. Given that the origin of all forms of psychotherapy can be traced back to Freud, who developed his ideas through the writing of case studies – ‘The Case of Little Hans’ and ‘Wolfman’ amongst them - we can appreciate that the case study is an important learning instrument and research method. What, though, exactly can be learned from case studies? What makes a 'good' case study? What are the strengths of the case study compared to other forms of learning, teaching and research and what are the problems with case studies?


Historically, case studies have told the story from the point of view of the art therapist, but in recent years the ‘service user’ voice has been promoted with the opportunity for those on the other side of art therapy to tell their own stories. There have also been accounts written by both therapist and `service user’ co-operatively, for example, Omand (2022). The writing of a case study presents many challenges: whose story is it to tell, when is consent given with complete freedom when invited by the therapist who unavoidably holds power? By involving the ‘service user’ in the production, is the art therapist clouding the therapeutic work thus hindering its possibilities, and / or providing an opportunity for the ‘service user’ to have authorship over their own voice and experience?  How can we best protect the identity of service users and write case studies that best reflect our practice? What needs to be considered to preserve therapeutic ethics in ‘service user’ involvement?


We are inviting art therapists, ‘service users’ and others, to contribute case studies which reflect current art therapy practice and thinking, for a special issue of ATOL. We believe that the telling of the stories of art therapy is of great importance and would like you to submit yours. Our aim is the development of thinking within contemporary art therapy practice.


Deadline for submission- 31st October 2023

Please access the author guidelines on the ATOL website