A R T   T H E R A P Y   N O R T H E R N  R I V E R S

Masters & Grad.Cert Expressive & Creative Arts Therapy (Practice) 

Bachelors Art & Creativity


Australia, NZ & Asian Creative Arts Therapies Association



Art Therapy is based on the idea that creativity enhances the well-being of all people and is a natural aspect of all cultures and human experience. It is an experiential psychotherapeutic approach utilising many creative modalities within a therapeutic relationship with a trained therapist. It is holistic – attending to emotional, cognitive, physical and spiritual well-being – and aligns well with indigenous models of health and well-being. 

The arts therapies are a form of psychotherapy utilising creative modalities, including visual art-making, drama, and dance/movement, within a therapeutic relationship to improve and inform physical, mental and emotional well-being.


Art therapy utilises the materials of the visual arts such as paint, clay, pastels, crayons, collage as well as voice, writing, movement, roleplay and sand play. This can help clients to express the inexpressible, foster self-awareness, cope with difficulties and stress, facilitate recovery and explore new ways of being. Arts Therapy can be particularly useful for people who may be struggling to articulate their experiences and feelings. Children and young people often respond well to this form of counselling as it is non-threatening and offers them options about how to explore what they need to. Art Therapy uses creative processes to help clients explore and express material that is often difficult to articulate in words. These methods are innovative, participatory and practical: they provide a supportive space for participants to ‘try on’ and practise new behaviours, and this can be more effective than merely talking about change. Creativity harnesses the imagination and a sense of play. This can help those who have limited choices in their life to use the safe space of the therapeutic environment to learn to tolerate the uncertainty of the unknown, and to become more comfortable to be able to improvise and open up new possibilities in their lives.

Contemporary neurobiological research into trauma suggests that trauma has a powerful physical component and thus the first step in addressing trauma should attend to embodied trauma responses. Because the creative arts therapies are based on body awareness they can effectively address trauma and emotional and physical dysregulation. Creative arts therapies can increase resilience by improving the sense of agency and self-understanding through the ability to express feelings symbolically. This can give new perspectives on oneself and on one’s world view, which is essential in the recovery process. Creativity can connect us with a sense of meaning and also a means of communicating this to others. This approach can provide soothing and satisfying activities that can counteract a lack of engagement and provide the experience of safety, empowerment and the relief of symptoms of anxiety and/or depression through symbolic expression. - ANZACATA





I am a registered Art Therapist specialising in work with adolescents with a strong commitment to supporting the needs of young people. Specializing in the fields of trauma and abuse, disengaged youth, and indigenous populations. I use creative and expressive art therapy approaches coupled with counselling, positive psychology, mindfulness-based practices in working with young people to support them to understand more about their life experiences to facilitate positive changes in their lives. My work takes place with clients in a present-moment context and seeks to make sense of a clients "lived-experience" through a combination of art therapy and counselling processors. I employ a range of modalities in sessions including visual arts, drawing, painting, sculpture, mask-making, sand tray, writing, journaling and movement.


I produce and deliver specific programs suited to the needs of organisations and their clients. I work individually with clients and facilitate group programs and art projects. I also hold extensive experience in working with women’s groups, Indigenous and cultural groups, special needs, disabilities in community social & health organisations.

Organisations that I have worked with include Lismore Women’s Refuge, Family and Community Service, Juvenile Justice, UPA Youth Care, Many Hands International (Timor Leste), Byron Youth Service, Child & Adolescent Specialist Program & Accommodation (CASPA), Medicare Local NT, Accommodation Network, Evans Head Neighborhood Center and The Tara Children's Project (Bihar, India

I have extensive experience facilitating high-quality programs suited to a range of abilities, ages and contexts. I am available to write and tailor a program plan to suit your group or organization. I work throughout Australia and New Zealand and am based in the Northern Rivers Region of NSW.





Individual Art Therapy Sessions specialising in Adolescents

Group Art Therapy Sessions

Therapeutic Youth Mentoring

Therapeutic Arts and Well-Being Programs

✩ Recommended 4-6 initial sessions

✩ Group programs are available and can be designed and delivered to suit the clients and organisational requirements.

Services provided under the NDIS

Young people in the Northern Rivers can now access Art Therapy sessions through Art Therapy Northern Rivers. There are three different ways you can manage the funds you receive from NDIS, self-managed, plan managed and agency managed. The first two options allow you to choose from any providers including providers who are not registered with NDIS.

If you are self-managed or plan managed through NDIS funded services you can access are:

  • Art Therapy

  • Individual Art session

  • Therapeutic Youth Mentoring

To discuss bookings for sessions please or for more details particular to your group or organization please contact me via my contact page or email karmabarnes@live.com to obtain a referral form for clients.

✩ Sessions currently available in throughout Northern Rivers & Southern Gold Coast 



✩ Relaxation
✩ Increased Well-being
✩ Insight into Illness
✩ Self-expression
✩ Self-confidence
✩ Personal Growth
✩ Positive Socialisation
✩ Reduction in Stress and Anxiety
✩ Increase in Self Awareness
✩ Processing difficult Experiences
✩ Enhanced cognitive abilities
✩ Positive self-identity

   (ANZATA 2012)

S E S S I O N S   P R O V I D E 

  • Art therapy supports:

  • Self-awareness and ways to express feelings

  • Self-esteem, confidence and positive self-identity

  • Communication and social skills

  • Art therapy offers a nonthreatening way for teens to express their inner feelings

  • Flexible thinking and spontaneity

  • Motivation to clarify and work through inner experiences

  • Mindfulness tools

  • Regular progress reports to caseworkers and organizations.

“Through art I was able to bring grace into my life. I took the things that were most bothersome and made them the subject matter of art. The toxin became the antitoxin, the medicine of art.”

-Shaun McNiff, Art As Medicine

Karma Barnes (AThR ) is a Professional Member of Australian, New Zealand and Asian Creative Arts Therapies Association (ANZACATA) the peak professional body representing creative arts therapists in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia/Pacific region.

Does Creative Arts Therapy Help?

A recent report from The World Health Organisation (Health Evidence Network synthesis report 67, 2019) investigated arts based therapies from over 3000 studies and found “a major role for the arts in the prevention of ill health, promotion of health, and management and treatment of illness across the lifespan”. The WHO report found:

  1. The overall evidence base shows a robust impact of the arts on both mental and physical health

  2. It is useful in the expression and exploration of difficult or complex problems.

  3. It is cost effective, engages minority or marginalised groups, complements other therapies or medical


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