NDIS and Art Therapy

Navigating the world of disability support can be challenging. This article bridges the gap between the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and Art Therapy, offering a clear understanding of how art therapy can be a valuable part of an NDIS plan.

Art therapy, an expressive form of therapy that uses artistic activities to heal and enhance mental health, aligns well with the goals of the NDIS in providing personalised and effective care.

NDIS and Art Therapy

In this guide, we will explore the role of art therapy within the NDIS framework. We’ll discuss eligibility criteria, the process of including art therapy in your NDIS plan, the benefits of working with a qualified art therapist, and the impact of these therapies on various disabilities.

This article aims to provide practical information for NDIS participants, caregivers, and professionals seeking to integrate art therapy into their care strategies.

What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

It allows individuals to express and understand emotions through artistic expression and creative process.

It’s the only self-paced therapy of its kind, where you can still receive therapeutic benefits just from observing.

NDIS and Art Therapy

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) supports art therapy by recognising it as a beneficial therapeutic approach for individuals with disabilities.

1. Funding

NDIS provides funding to participants who have art therapy included in their individualised plan. This funding can be used to pay for art therapy sessions, materials, and other related expenses.

2. Choice and Control

NDIS operates on a principle of choice and control, meaning participants can choose the services they feel will most benefit them. If a participant feels art therapy is the best choice for their needs, they can choose to include it in their plan.

3. Capacity Building Supports

Art therapy can be included under the NDIS’s Capacity Building Supports category. This category is designed to support activities that build the participant’s independence and skills, which can include art therapy.

4. Therapeutic Supports

Art therapy can be classified as a therapeutic support. NDIS recognises that therapeutic supports, like art therapy, can help participants manage their daily life and help them participate more in their community.

5. Individualised Plans

NDIS plans are tailored to the individual’s needs. If a participant and their planner agree that art therapy would be beneficial, it can be included in their plan.

6. Improved Daily Living

One of the goals of NDIS is to improve daily living for participants. Art therapy can help achieve this by providing a creative outlet, reducing stress, improving mental health, and developing social skills.

Note: The inclusion of art therapy in an NDIS plan is subject to approval and must be justified as being reasonable and necessary to the participant’s needs.

How Does NDIS Fund Art Therapy?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funds Art Therapy under its Capacity Building budget. This budget is designed to support participants in building their skills and independence.

Art Therapy can be included in an individual’s NDIS plan if it is considered a reasonable and necessary support that helps them achieve their goals.

The funding can cover the cost of the art therapist, materials required for the therapy, and any associated costs such as travel for the therapist. The amount of funding provided will depend on the participant’s individual needs and goals.

To access funding for Art Therapy, participants need to discuss this with their NDIS planner or Local Area Coordinator during their planning meeting. They will need to explain how Art Therapy will help them achieve their goals and improve their daily life.

It’s important to note that the NDIS will only fund supports that are directly related to a participant’s disability and are not part of day-to-day living expenses that are unrelated to their disability support needs.

It’s also recommended to provide evidence or reports from therapists or medical professionals to support the claim for Art Therapy. This can help the NDIS understand the benefits of the therapy for the participant.

Solving Puzzles

Who Can Benefit From NDIS-funded Art Therapy?

NDIS-funded art therapy can benefit a wide range of individuals, especially those who are part of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in Australia.

Here are some key groups who can significantly benefit from this type of therapy:

1. Children and Adolescents with Developmental Delays

Art therapy can be particularly beneficial for young individuals with developmental challenges. It can help in improving their motor skills, communication abilities, and emotional expression.

2. Individuals with Mental Health Conditions

People suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health issues “can find art therapy a useful tool in managing their symptoms and improving their overall mental well-being.

3. People with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Art therapy can aid those with ASD in expressing themselves, managing sensory issues, and improving social skills.

4. Adults with Intellectual Disabilities

It can help in enhancing cognitive abilities, promoting self-expression, and fostering a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem.

5. Elderly Participants

Particularly those with dementia or Alzheimer’s can benefit from art therapy as it can aid in memory recall and provide a sense of joy and engagement.

6. Individuals with Physical Disabilities

Art therapy can be adapted to suit various physical limitations, allowing those with disabilities to engage in creative expression which can improve motor skills and provide emotional relief.

7. People Recovering from Trauma or Illness

Art therapy offers a non-verbal outlet for expressing feelings and processing traumatic experiences, which can be crucial in the journey towards healing.

8. Those Seeking Personal Development

Individuals looking to explore self-awareness, personal growth, and emotional healing can also benefit from art therapy.

In each case, the NDIS can fund art therapy if it is deemed reasonable and necessary for the participant’s individual goals and needs. It’s essential to consult with an NDIS planner or coordinator to determine how art therapy can be included in an individual’s plan.


What Activities Are Involved in Art Therapy?

Art Therapy encompasses a wide range of artistic activities and mediums, allowing for diverse forms of expression and creativity.

Here are some of the artistic mediums and activities that can be included in art therapy:

  1. Sculpture and Clay Work: Working with clay or other sculpting materials, which can be particularly therapeutic for tactile stimulation and fine motor skills development.
  2. Collage: Creating collages using various materials like paper, fabric, or found objects, which can be excellent for decision-making and self-expression.
  3. Photography: Using photography as a means of expression and exploration of perspectives.
  4. Digital Art: Utilising digital tools and software to create artwork, especially beneficial for individuals with certain physical limitations.
  5. Textile Arts: Activities like weaving, knitting, or sewing, which can be calming and help improve focus and fine motor skills.
  6. Printmaking: Creating prints using various techniques, offering a unique way to explore patterns and repetition.
  7. Mixed Media: Combining different artistic mediums to create multi-dimensional works, encouraging experimentation and creativity.
  8. Performance Arts: In some cases, expressive therapies might include elements of performance arts like drama or dance, which can be effective for emotional expression and physical movement.
  9. Art Journaling: Keeping an art journal where participants can express their thoughts and feelings through a combination of drawing, painting, writing, and collage.
  10. Crafts: Engaging in various craft activities that encourage creativity, such as making jewellery, pottery, or other handcrafted items.

In each case, the choice of medium and activity in art therapy under the NDIS is tailored to the individual’s interests, abilities, therapeutic needs, and goals.

The flexibility in using different art forms allows participants to find the most effective and enjoyable way to express themselves and work towards their therapeutic objectives.

Do you need an NDIS registered Art Therapist?

Whether you need an NDIS-registered art therapist depends on how your NDIS plan is managed.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) offers different ways to manage funding, and this affects whether you can use unregistered providers like art therapists.

Here are the three types of plan management and their implications for choosing an art therapist:

  1. NDIS-Managed (Agency-Managed): If your plan is managed by the NDIS (also known as agency-managed), you are required to use NDIS-registered providers for all services, including art therapy. This means you would need to find an art therapist who is registered with the NDIS.
  2. Plan-Managed: If your plan is managed by a plan manager, you have more flexibility. You can choose from both registered and unregistered providers. In this case, you can opt for an art therapist who is not registered with the NDIS, as long as your plan manager can facilitate the payments.
  3. Self-Managed: If you are self-managing your NDIS funds, you have the most flexibility in choosing providers. You can use your funding to pay for services from both registered and unregistered providers, including art therapists. This means you can choose any art therapist who meets your needs, regardless of their NDIS registration status.

It is important to check your plan details and understand your management type before selecting an art therapist.

Additionally, regardless of the therapist’s registration status, it’s crucial to ensure that they are qualified and experienced in providing art therapy services, especially in the context of disability and NDIS goals.

What Goals can be achieved with Art Therapy?

Art therapy offers a versatile approach to achieving various therapeutic goals for individuals with diverse needs.

Here are some common goals that can be achieved through art therapy:

  1. Emotional Expression and Regulation: Art therapy allows for the expression of emotions that might be difficult to verbalise, helping individuals process and regulate their feelings.
  2. Stress Reduction and Relaxation: Engaging in artistic activities can be inherently calming, offering a way to reduce stress and promote relaxation.
  3. Improved Self-Esteem and Confidence: Creating art can enhance feelings of self-worth and confidence, especially as individuals gain skills and express themselves.
  4. Enhanced Communication Skills: Art therapy can improve non-verbal communication and help individuals articulate their thoughts and feelings more effectively.
  5. Cognitive Functioning and Problem-Solving: Artistic processes can stimulate cognitive functions and encourage creative problem-solving.
  6. Motor Skills Development: Engaging in art can enhance fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and overall dexterity.
  7. Social Skills Enhancement: Group art therapy sessions can improve social skills, foster interaction, and enhance empathy and understanding among participants.
  8. Trauma Processing: Art therapy provides a safe medium for processing traumatic experiences and emotions, facilitating healing and recovery.
  9. Improved Mental Health: It’s beneficial for managing symptoms of mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, PTSD, and more.
  10. Sensory Stimulation and Integration: Art activities, particularly those involving tactile materials, can be useful for sensory stimulation and integration.
  11. Self-Discovery and Insight: The creative process can lead to self-discovery, personal insight, and a deeper understanding of one’s own life experiences and emotions.
  12. Coping Skills for Chronic Health Conditions: Art therapy can aid in coping with chronic illnesses or disabilities, providing an outlet for expression and distraction from pain or discomfort.

Each individual’s goals in art therapy will be unique, based on their personal circumstances, challenges, and therapeutic needs.

In the context of the NDIS, these goals are often aligned with the participant’s plan to ensure the therapy supports their broader objectives for independence, well-being, and community participation.


Art therapy emerges as a powerful tool within the NDIS framework, offering a creative and therapeutic avenue for individuals with disabilities to achieve a multitude of goals.

From enhancing emotional expression and improving mental health to developing social skills and motor abilities, art therapy’s flexibility and adaptability make it a valuable component of many NDIS plans.

The essence of art therapy lies in its ability to provide a unique, non-verbal medium of expression, catering to a wide range of needs and abilities. Whether it’s through painting, sculpture, digital art, or any other form, art therapy offers an inclusive, engaging, and effective way to support personal development and well-being.

For those interested in exploring how art therapy can be integrated into their NDIS plan, or for anyone seeking guidance on accessing NDIS funding for art therapy, Sunrise2Sunrise offers expert assistance and support.

As a provider knowledgeable in both art therapy and the intricacies of NDIS funding, Sunrise2Sunrise can help you navigate the process, ensuring that the therapy aligns with your individual goals and the requirements of your NDIS plan.

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