Note Writing and Psychoaesthetics


We are exploring observation and arts based note writing in our training group based on the book Studio Art Therapy by Catherine Hyland Moon.

Quotes from Catherine Hyland Moon:


“When we endeavour to discern the poetry of our clients’ lives, as expressed through anecdotes about the client…and by observing clients’ behaviours, we are tuning into a means of understanding that is unique to the arts. The text and action stories of clients, their anecdotes and behaviours, provide the art therapist with an avenue of understanding that is sympathetic to an artistic perspective…One of our contributions to the helping professions might be an acutely attended sensitivity to the means of understanding clients offered by our aesthetic sensibilities.” (p. 103)

Ali Coles has written an article entitled “The Art of Note Writing” in the Canadian Art Therapy Association Journal, Volume 31, Issue 2, 2019. Ali Coles was inspired by the ideas of Arthur Robbins and his use of the term psychoaesthetics.

Link below to “The Art of Note Writing” (free access until April 30, 2019)

Ali Coles Smiling BLOG

Quotes from Ali Coles, “The Art of Note Writing”

“Our clinical notes encapsulate therapy session content, holding it between sessions, forming a narrative over the course of the therapy and contributing to a sense of an unbroken therapeutic encounter. It seems important to pay attention to how the aesthetic form of the notes contributes to their containing and bridging function.” (p. 103)

“This approach [psychoaesthetics] involves attending to the non-verbal aesthetic qualities of sessions, which might be thought about in terms of flow, shape, colour, texture, and sound.” (p. 102)

Psychoaestheics is a termed developed by Arthur Robbins,  Professor of Creative Arts Therapy at the Pratt Institute, New York:

“When I speak of aesthetics, I’m referring to making the inanimate animate, giving form to diffuse energy or ideas, breathing life into sterile communications”

In the therapeutic communicative structure, the expression of the aesthetic takes place both within a particular modality and in the patient-therapist relationship”

Source: “A Psychoaesthetic Perspective on Creative Arts Therapy and Training” by Arthur Robbins in The Arts in Psychotherapy, Volume 15, 1988.

Please also take time to read BAAT’s guidelines to note writing for art therapists:

BAAT Art Therapy, Note Writing and the Law,%20Note%20Writing%20and%20The%20Law.pdf

The artworks below were mentioned in Group 1, during the group exercise exploring empathetic attunement using arts based responses. This was a group activity based on Chapter 5, Studio Art Therapy.




Photo: Fibre bundles



Photos Above: The Forest Studio



Photo: Drawing in a window frame.