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Art therapy with refugee children: A qualitative study explored through the lens of art therapists and their experiences

12 December 2018

New art therapy research by Zahra Akthar & Andrew Lovell...


This research explores the use of art therapy with refugee children from the art therapist’s perspective. Three semi-structured interviews were carried out with art therapists who had experience of working with refugee children.

Once interviews were collected, these were then analysed using a method of analysis which enables common themes to be found amongst the unique set of experiences and stories collected. The analysis generated five themes, which were:

(1) Giving Voice

(2) Rebuilding Trust, Opening Wounds

(3) Sharing Stories, Healing Pain

(4) Exploring Identity, Discovering New-self

(5) Understanding Art Therapy.

The first four themes suggested that art therapy is a useful form of therapy for refugee children. However, theme 5 (understanding art therapy) could be a limitation for art therapy with this client group, as art therapy is often unknown to them.

Taking this research forward, it will be important to explore the use of art therapy with refugee children by carrying out further research with the children themselves.

In conclusion, art therapy can be a useful form of therapy for refugee children. Art therapy provides these children with a safe space to heal, and gives them a voice to be heard.

This study by Zahra Akthar & Andrew Lovell has been made free access until 31st March 2019 here


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