“Promoting the use of art and creativity to facilitate personal well-being.”
  • Welcome to NIGAT

    NIGAT – Northern Ireland Group for Art as Therapy.

    NIGAT is a volunteer-led membership organization who promotes the use of Art as Therapy and Art Therapy to facilitate health and well-being.

    Anybody interested in using art and creativity for self-expression is welcome to become a member, or attend our open events.

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  • Mission

    The mission of Northern Ireland Group for Art as Therapy (NIGAT) is to promote the use of creativity in the arts to enhance wellbeing.

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  • Vision

    Our vision of the future is one where everyone has an understanding of the value of art as therapy and has the opportunity to experience the power of the creative process.

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  • Values

    The following values underpin all aspects of NIGAT:

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  • Creativity

    Creativity is a fundamental human right and has unique power to transform individuals.

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  • Respect

    Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect.

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  • Inclusion

    Art as therapy is something that everyone can experience. NIGAT is open and welcoming to all.

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  • Safety

    Everyone has the right to feel safe and to have their confidentiality respected

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  • Member-led

    NIGAT is its members. We are committed to working as a team, using the skills and commitment of the members.

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  • Reflections on Summer School, 2013

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    Plan, Present, Participate:
    Reflections on Summer School, 2013

    By: Jaime Creeth

    Some people like to test the waters before going for a swim. I, on the other hand, jump right in. That is exactly how I began NIGAT's 2013 Art Therapy Summer School, with blind enthusiasm. This all-out attitude landed me right in the middle of it all, with a three-hundred and sixty degree view of Summer School: as a planner, participant, and presenter. And that is exactly how I will recount my experience, with a view from each perspective. We'll find out if I sank or swam...

    1. The Planner
    After serving on the main committee as secretary for NIGAT this past year, I got on board with the Summer School subcommittee. I love planning things, and I was enthusiastic about helping plan Summer School. Planning consisted of many meetings over coffee, working together, emails to coordinate, organising bookings, making phone calls, writing lists, and keeping spreadsheets. I got involved with it all, the planning and preparations. Did I mention I'd never been to Summer School before this year? It's true. I was  helping plan something I couldn't picture. It felt a little like trying to build Ikea furniture that I didn't have an instruction booklet for. (Those little diagrams are so helpful!) To be fair, Jayne McConkey and Eimear Quiery (the subcommittee team) expertly guided me through the planning process, giving me tools I needed, describing what the finished product should look like. In the end, all the nuts and bolts were in the right places and we had a beautiful looking piece of work- a great venue, a diverse range of presenters and thought-provoking topics, and inspiring materials. The greatest challenge this year proved to be promoting Summer School and getting participants signed up to attend. That part was out of our hands. But, with Jayne's creative problem-solving and the graciousness of our presenters, we came up with a solution that worked. Creativity to the rescue. Summer School was go!

    2. The Presenter
    Because I was also presenting at Summer School, I was simultaneously planning for the event and preparing my presentation in the months prior. Another creative process. Shirley McMillan and I met, discussed, and collaborated to create the framework for our presentation on "Art & Identity: Creating Inclusive Community in Schools and Beyond." The timing was just right for preparing this topic, as I got to reconnect with the group that inspired our presentation in March and co-facilitate a weekend at Greenhill YMCA with Shimna Integrated College's Gay-Straight Alliance. As always, the young people inspired me with their courage, wisdom, and laughter. This presentation was an incredibly personal topic to me, and I put my heart into it. Leading up to the day of presenting, I was nervous with all the last minute preparations. But the time came, and we went for it! I enjoyed working with Shirley, and I learned so much from her. I'm grateful for having had the opportunity to share a little bit about my own journey and how it intersected with the creation of the GSA. The presentation felt like a milestone, something to mark the beginning of my life and career as a creative therapist in Belfast.

    3. The Participant
    This is my favourite part! Participating in the Summer School made all of the hard work worth it. This is the part where I got to sit back, take it in, be inspired, nourished, and enjoy. I spent the week in Pamela Whitaker's workshop "Artefact: The Social Canvas and the Art of Everyday Places." It was unique, interesting, dynamic, and exactly what I needed to re-ignite my creative spirit. In beginning my journey as a therapist over the past few years, I lost a bit of my artist identity. My own arts practice had been set to the side. The Summer School in general and Pamela's workshop in particular, reminded me that my own creativity is vital to my practice as a therapist. Vital. It is my life force. Pamela's unique perspective challenged the boundaries of artist/therapist and took art therapy to the streets and galleries of Belfast. Her workshop not only helped me see this city in a new way, it helped me see the potential for what is possible as an artist/therapist. The future is limitless.

    So, as planner, presenter, and participant at NIGAT's Summer School did I sink or swim? I definitely came out swimming. And I am so excited about next year's Summer School. I'm even more enthusiastic now than I was before!

    ps. Be on the lookout for information regarding NIGAT's Summer School 2014






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  • NIGAT Summer School Reflections

    Jayne McConkey attended the 22nd NIGAT Summer School in Corrymela and writes a reflection on the weekend.

    S School 3

    We have gathered together under a full moon, and blue skies heavy laden with thunder and sodden clouds, slashes of rainbow, broken cloud beams and sunsets.


    We have gathered to the sound of waves washing treasures ashore, songs soaked in firelight and conversation weaving connections through meals that nourish more than the body.


    We have gathered bringing with us our stories and histories, our spaces and resources, bearing witness to our collective primal creating, we seek allies to help us inhabit well.


    We have gathered the threads, adorning transformative ritual and bundling messages of individual hope, protesting restricted movements, we weave and dance together.


    We have gathered trusting the laughter and tears to take us somewhere, exploring access points to bridging engagement with ourselves and others, moving beyond solitary. 

    S School 2

    We have gathered within unseen borders, face to face we hear the ripples of our interdependence meet the shores of our own fears, tears and joys.


    We have gathered in greatness, stealing wisdom where we touch it, sending our stories into the world, alive to be heard as they will, hearing as we will and opening our hearts to moments of transformation.


    We have gathered to walk, stretch, breathe and sing, to sculpt, print, ink, paint and play, to weave, stitch, build, explore and be.


    We now leave with bundles of moments, captured on the canvas of our own collective creating, threads marking stories to nourish a new day, connecting us to the clay beneath and within us, alive to renewed possibilities of full life and the hopes of creative encounter. 

    S School 4



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  • Some dates to pop into your diary for the coming year.
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    Dates for your Diary

  • NIGAT hold three day meetings a year. These normally take place on the first Saturday in February, June and October and run from 10-4. These consist of experiential art-making and a variety of presentations relating to creativity and well-being. The atmosphere is open and welcoming. A delicious lunch is also provided.   These usually take place at the Ballyowen Day Centre, 179 Andersonstown Road, Belfast 11 9EA Day Meeting Cost: Members - £7.50      Non-members - £15
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    Day Meetings

  • NIGAT has held an Art Therapy Summer School every summer, following the tradition started in 1993. The non-residential summer school is designed all those interested in the therapeutic application of art with children and adults.
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    Summer Schools

  • It has been one of the NIGAT objectives to establish a reading room to house the collection of books that Rita Simon donated to the organisation. After a process of assessing properties, NIGAT is pleased to have the new Rita Simon Reading room.
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    Reading Room