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Processes of change in school-based art therapy with children

05 September 2017

This systematic qualitative study explored children’s school-based one-to-one art therapy in order to create a theory of change. Across two primary schools, 14 children were interviewed individually, as were their parents, teachers and art therapists...

 

PROCESSES OF CHANGE IN SCHOOL-BASED ART THERAPY WITH CHILDREN: A SYSTEMATIC QUALITATIVE STUDY

by Rachel Deboys, Sue Holttum & Karen Wright

Published in the International Journal of Art Therapy

This article has been made FREE ACCESS until 28th February 2018.

ABSTRACT

Although theoretical processes of art therapy with children have been suggested, they have lacked a systematic research basis. This systematic qualitative study explored children’s school-based one-to-one art therapy in order to create a theory of change. Across two primary schools, 14 children were interviewed individually, as were their parents, teachers and art therapists (total N = 40). All children had received art therapy within the previous 12 months. Children completed an art activity to aid the interview process.

Interview data were analysed using grounded theory methodology. The analysis generated a preliminary model with three components. ‘Component 1—school context’ highlights the systemic nature of art therapy as well as its mystique to those not directly involved. ‘Component 2—core model’ describes art therapy as individualised and child-centred. Art-doing and making were considered central to children’s expression and developing understandings. ‘Component 3—change and no change’ describes the connection between identifying therapy aims and perceiving change.

Recommendations are that art therapy be considered for children struggling to verbalise their difficulties; that therapists focus on therapeutic experiences being fun and enjoyable for the child, as well as embedded within the child’s system; and lastly that clear target problems are identified at the start of therapy.

 

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