Why is my child being referred to Art Therapy?

There may be mixed feelings if your child/young person has been referred to our services. It is important to remember that there isn’t something ‘wrong’ with them, as we are all individual and need additional support at times. In fact, most children and young people will experience some difficulty during their time in education.

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Art Therapy is decidedly not art classes and not necessarily about creating ‘good’ or ‘beautiful’ pictures. The art making as well as the relational aspect of the therapy process is used to support an individual in their own unique way. As verbalizing thoughts and feelings can be particularly difficult for multi-layered and complex material, Art Therapy has proven an excellent modality to facilitate expression, explore emotions and experiment with alternative ways of thinking, feeling and relating.


Some of the things that happen to children/young people can be very upsetting. They may need more time and support in order to be able to reflect on, understand and talk about what has happened, than the teacher is able to offer in a classroom setting.


Although what goes on in the Art Therapy space is held confidential, the Art Therapist will liaise with parents, carers and teaching staff involved in the young person’s life. As a parent/carer, you can expect to meet with the Art Therapist at the beginning of therapy, as well as when reviewing the progress made.

When can Art Therapy help?

A referral to Art Therapy can be useful, if a child:

  • Has experienced a change in their home life or a difficult event, such as a bereavement.
  • Responds differently than ‘usual’, i.e. getting upset, angry or distraught about.
  • Has psychosomatic symptoms
  • Struggles to stay focused in the lessons or participating in group discussion/activities in the classroom
  • Has a difficult time forming and sustaining friendships
  • Finds it difficult to adhere to rules and routines in the classroom (i.e. being persistently disruptive or attention-seeking in class)
  • Has low self-esteem, is being bullied by others or becomes a bully themselves
  • Displays some behaviours that are different from their ‘usual’ selves, such as frequently withdrawing or becoming easily tearful


Hertfordshire Art Therapy provides therapeutic support for individuals, offering sessions based in a safe and familiar school environment. We work with a wide range of issues, adapting our approach to offer the right kind of help and support for each person, including those with a broad or complex range of issues and concerns.


We work in schools because we know that children find it easier to feel safe enough to explore their feelings and experiences in a familiar environment. It also helps us to support them, if we are working together with the people who are important to them and who they will see every day – their teachers, other school staff and their parents/ carers.


In schools, we are able to offer a wide range of art workshops, on-going art therapy groups and individual sessions:


At Hertfordshire Art Therapy, we provide highly specialist, art-based therapeutic interventions to schools in the local area. We work directly at the contracted schools with referred children who may struggle with learning and accessing school life due to various reasons, i.e. changes in their home lives, emotional and developmental difficulties, loss or other challenges that impede their ability to fully access education.


With a focus on addressing attainment gaps in schools, we hope that our unique educational tool will enhance schools’ information around pupil premium guidance that can then assist them in attracting additional government funding for disadvantaged and the most vulnerable children.


A child may benefit from a referral to Art Therapy

  • Following a difficult event in a child’s/young person’s life, i.e. bereavement, change in home life.
  • When a sudden change in behaviour can be observed by staff or families, for instance in the form of withdrawal, disproportionate aggression, reacting strongly and distinctively different from the ‘usual’, becoming easily upset or tearful about something.
  • When there are difficulties to form or maintain friendships and/or bullying.
  • When there is excessive attention seeking or a difficulty to conform to classroom rules.
  • To improve self-esteem.
Locality & Accessibility

As residents of Hertfordshire, we are targeting the schools and educational institutions in the local area to benefit the communities in this county.


We deliver our services directly at the institutions themselves to minimise disruption in the young person’s life. This allows the service to be best integrated into a whole school approach to support individuals in Hertfordshire to grow and achieve, not only academically but also personally, to foster their resilience and thus prepare them for an increasingly complex society.

Higher Education

Art Therapy group workshops present a uniquely effective tool to support research students:


1/ Addressing isolation

The physicality of the art-making process in a group setting naturally offers opportunities to build relationships in a playful, non-threatening way.


A sense of togetherness and the formation of meaningful relationships is facilitated. This further models the important learning outcome of ‘networking’ in a small, non-judgemental space where this may be experienced and experimented with.


Furthermore, commonalities (i.e. similar emotions, challenges etc.) between participants may be identified and recognised to help sense of self within a group.


2/ Creative Thinking

By tapping into the unconscious, as well as in exchange with others and by engaging with the art materials, novel ways of thinking may be accessed and new ideas can emerge.


3/ Non-verbal communication to aid self-expression

The art materials, the art-making process and the relationships function as an interface for complex, often non-verbal communication.


This may be particularly useful for individuals who find it difficult to reach out to others verbally or put thoughts and feelings in words.


4/ Difference and diversity can be experienced and explored safely


5/ Complex and sensitive subjects can be discussed
such as mental health, stress, personal growth, self-care.

This can support students’ self-confidence, self-awareness and help them manage stress and improve their problem solving skills, all areas being crucial for academic success.

For Individuals: Adults

Personal Development

Art Therapy integrates psychotherapeutic techniques with the creative process to improve mental health and well-being. As an expressive medium, art can be used to help clients communicate, cope with stress, and engage with different aspects of their own personalities, as well as their relationships.
As it taps into the Unconscious, creativity may be accessed to allow new ways of thinking. The process of either viewing or creating art is used to improve mental, physical, psychological and emotional well-being. Within the safe and non-judgemental therapeutic space, alternative ways of being may be experimented with and can help people explore new coping strategies, identify new insights, manage stress better and realise their personal potential.
It is important to note that there is absolute NO need for individuals to have artistic ability or talent to benefit from it. There are not limitations of age, cognitive abilities or personal backgrounds.

Adult Mental Health

Art Therapy has its roots in acute hospital settings. Pioneers Adrian Hill and Edward Adamson discovered the therapeutic benefits of drawing and painting while recovering from illness (1942).
Art as supporting healing and providing an outlet for self-expression has since proven to be a particularly valuable treatment option for psychological and mental diseases. A recognised alternative to other ‘talking therapies’, Art Psychotherapy has a solid evidence-base to be beneficial for various psychiatric illnesses, such as depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, PTSD, schizophrenia or addiction. Used within a carefully-tailored treatment plan, Art Therapy can provide a unique tool to support the individual with their personal challenges.

Is art therapy
for me?

Do you or the client group
you’re caring for (pupils, patients etc.) …

  • Struggle with verbally expressing themselves?
  • Experience prolonged mental health issues, such as depression, panic attacks etc?
  • Have difficulty processing changes in your/their home/work environments?
  • Have a bereavement in your/their family, community or other social contexts?
  • Feel over-worked and stressed at work or in your family?

… Art Therapy might be useful for you!

Why not get in touch with us? Contact us here.


Get in touch.

Hanna Leipold
073 95830464

Contact Form (click here)

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