Dear Colleague,

As a full individual member of EFAT and founding member of the NEAT Group – Network of European Arte-Therapists, I would like to share EFAT´s recommendations for art-therapists working during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Caro/a Colega,

Enquanto membro individual da Federação Europeia de Arte-Terapeutas e membro do grupo de fundadores da NEAT – Rede Europeia de Arte-Terapeutas, queria partilhar convosco as recomendações da EFAT para arte-terapeutas/psicoterapeutas que se encontram a trabalhar durante a pandemia Covid-19.

Para mais informações contacte:

If you have further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at:

Please also consult your own national art therapy association for further information specific to your country.

Abraço, warm regards,

Paula Guerrinha

  1. The care and cleanliness of the art materials:

• Use disinfectant on all surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, chairs, art material boxes, etc., at least every day.

• Air your studio by opening windows between sessions.

• Use throwaway materials whenever possible.

• Do not have patients/clients share aprons or smocks. Encourage them to bring their own.

• Avoid using such absorbent art materials as paint and clay, which can harbor germs.

• If possible, provide each individual his or her art materials that can be stored in securely closed zip lock bags marked with that individual’s name. Of course, this is a solution that may work for some but not all.

• Wipe down any commonly used materials such as crayons, felt tip markers, etc. with alcohol or disinfectant after every use.

• Space sessions to allow more time in between for precautionary housekeeping measures.

• Have patients wash their hands upon entering and before leaving the session.

• Keep hand sanitizer gel available for patients as well as yourself to use frequently.

  • If you work in an institutional setting:

• Try to work individually, to the extent that it is possible, rather than in groups to lower the opportunity to spread infection.

• If you must work in groups, try to reduce the number of patients/clients in each session and space individuals at least a meter apart during art therapy.

• Any patient/client who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms, such as coughing, fever, is especially tired, etc., must get immediate medical screening. Remaining in the session will be dangerous for both the patient and everyone who comes into contact with him or her.

• Be especially careful about working with immune-compromised individuals such as the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions (i.e., hematology/oncology patients). Follow the advice of your medically trained colleagues if you intend to continue to work with these populations. Follow all rules and regulations of your institution regarding emergent precautions due to COVID-19.    

  • If you work in private practice:

• As more countries are adopting lockdown measures, our best advice is to close down all face-to-face contact.

• Work remotely via the internet only if feasible from a practical and clinical point of view, as well as according to your level of training and the laws in your country.

• Some patients or clients might not respond well to working remotely for clinical reasons as they need a more sensory-based therapeutic experience. 

• If you are unable to continue sessions with certain patients, explain why to them clearly and in a way that will reassure resumption of art therapy once the lockdown is over. You can speak to these patients by phone to make sure they understand that not being able to attend sessions is not their fault and is done for their safety as well as the safety of the community.

• Working remotely means that your patient/client will have to provide his or her own art materials. This can work well with some individuals, but will be more difficult or impossible with other populations such as children.

  • When teaching and supervising students and professionals:

• In many countries, universities and training programs have already closed down to students. We consider closing in-person classes and supervision groups until the crest of the virus has passed and your governments advise reopening educational institutions.

• Classes and supervision groups may safely continue on the internet

via those apps that are most securely encrypt confidentiality requirements such as Zoom,, or VSee. As of 3/18/20, the US agency overseeing health care now agrees that during the present health crisis other apps may also be used (i.e.,

Apple Face Time, Google Meet, WhatsApp). Those apps, such as Skype, which store the content of the interaction, may not be able to guard confidentiality as securely. 

• If you are working in a country where your university or training program is still open, follow the precautions stated above that apply to clinical work.

• Emphasize to your students and supervisees the importance of following all rules provided by medical experts in containing this pandemic.

No art therapist, student or supervisee should take unnecessary risks.

  • Self-care measures for art therapists during trying times

• Turn to your creativity to express yourself through your art, for pleasure and in distress.

• In spite of the lockdown, try not to remain completely isolated from others. Communicating with friends, family and colleagues can help mitigate feelings of isolation. Social media can be one safe way to connect personally.

• Talk to other professionals to keep up-to-date on new developments in precautionary behavior during this public health pandemic.

• If you and your family or roommate(s) are crowded into small living conditions, find a corner that will be safely “yours,” your “go-to” place where you can use art materials, read, or just think.

• Realize that this health crisis can raise deeper personal fears and anxieties that may lead to trauma reactions. Be prepared to recognize your own reactions as such and seek help if you are in need.

• Consult with your own therapist or supervisor if you feel overwhelmed emotionally.

• Take the time to get things done that you’ve put off, as well as to enjoy books you meant to read, and get a little sunshine on a sunny day.

• Above all, keep your sense of humor… even if you have to tell a joke to your dog!

• Reassure your loved ones that eventually this pandemic will pass but, in the meantime, will require everyone’s cooperation in heeding precautions to avoid its spread.



European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control:

European Association for Psychotherapy:

The Imperial College London Report: COVID-19: Imperial researchers model likely impact of public health measures

Imperial-College-COVID 19-NPI-MODELLING- 16-03-2020.pdf

American Art Therapy Association

American Art Therapy Association Best Practices Blog:

American Psychological Association: Coronavirus anxiety

Leon Hoffman’s article in Psychology Today

Making a Mask

#COVIBOOK: Supporting and reassuring children around the world

(a book to help children deal with COVID-19 in 22 different languages)

275+ Enrichment Activities While Parents Are Working Remotely

Education From Home Resource Department by Christie Megill

Washington Post article about a therapist’s sad journey with the virus:

Mind/body workout


HOW TO WASH YOUR HANDS, from the New York Times

When the COVID-19 Pandemic Leaves Clients Feeling Helpless [Bessel van der Kolk, MD]

Maria Paula Guerrinha
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