Staff Directory

Ali coles smiling

Contact Details


Postgraduate Certificate in Developing Professional Practice in Higher Education (University of South Wales)
MA Art Therapy (University of Derby)
MA Museum and Gallery Management (City University)
Postgraduate Certificate of Education (University of Cambridge)
BA Natural Sciences (University of Cambridge)
Diploma in Art and Design (Stroud College)


Alongside her University role, Ali is employed as an Art Psychotherapist in NHS adult community mental health teams. She works with clients with complex psychological difficulties, both individually and within groups. She has a particular interest in the use of museums, galleries and other cultural and environmental resources in Art Psychotherapy, and was the co-founder of the British Association of Art Therapists’ Museums and Galleries Special Interest Group ( She runs innovative museum-based Art Psychotherapy Groups in her NHS work, using museum objects, exhibitions and settings to aid the therapeutic process.

She has a personal art practice spanning drawing, video, digital art and sculpture.


Before qualifying as an Art Psychotherapist, Ali worked as a primary school teacher, a museum education officer, a museum adviser, and a project manager and consultant in the areas of arts, heritage, health and education. She has also devised and delivered a therapeutic arts programme for families, with funding from Arts Council England.


Teaching and module leadership, MA Art Psychotherapy.


Coles A., Harrison, F. and Todd, S. (2019) ‘Flexing the frame: therapist experiences of museum-based group art psychotherapy for adults with complex mental health difficulties’, International Journal of Art Therapy 24(2), pp. 56-67.
Coles, A. and Harrison, F. (2017) ‘Tapping into museums for psychotherapy: an evaluation of a pilot group for young adults’, International Journal of Art Therapy, 23(3), pp. 115-124
Coles, A. (2017) ‘Psychotherapy in Museums’: [Visual submission], Museological Review, 21, p. 49 
Coles, A. (2013) ‘’Being Time’: An exploration of personal experiences of time and implications for art psychotherapy practice’, International Journal of Art Therapy, 19(2), pp. 71-81
Coles. A. and Jury, H. ((eds.) ‘Art Therapy in Museums and Galleries: Reframing practice’. To be published by Jessica Kingsley in 2020


Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT)
BAAT Museums and Galleries Special Interest Group
BAAT Art Therapy Practice Research Network
Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


Art Psychotherapist, Complex Psychological Interventions, Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust
Associate Editor, International Journal of Art Therapy
Co-founder, British Association of Art Therapists’ Museums and Galleries Special Interest Group (
Advisory Group member, Facts4Life (


Ali is an experienced speaker, trainer and consultant and can offer presentations, workshops, advice and supervision in many aspects of Art Psychotherapy. She has particular expertise in using museums within Art Psychotherapy.


Please visit for details of research output.

Research interests:
The use of museums, galleries and other cultural and environmental resources in Art Psychotherapy.
Trauma and Art Psychotherapy.
Art Psychotherapists’ use of artmaking.
Arts-based research methods.
The relationship between Art Psychotherapy and the Arts and Health sector.

Research grants obtained:
£10,000 from Silvanus Trust for a woodland and wellbeing research project
£5,000 from Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group for the delivery and evaluation of a pilot museum-based Art Psychotherapy Group

Areas of Expertise

Adult mental health (severe and enduring mental health difficulties)
Group Art Psychotherapy
Museum-based Art Psychotherapy
Arts-based research methods



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