What is art therapy?

Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art materials as its primary mode of expression. This can be particularly appropriate when working with children who do not communicate verbally. Working with art materials can help the child to explore and communicate their feelings nonverbally.

Using art as a primary mode of expression, art therapy can help children and young people to develop a stronger sense of identity, self-esteem, self-awareness, self-confidence and emotional resilience.

What happens in an art therapy session?

Art therapy sessions are client -led, meaning that the child is in control of what is expressed in the therapy room. The therapist is there to listen to the child’s communication and try to help them make sense of their inner thoughts, feelings and experiences. Sessions are 45 minutes long and run at the same time and in the same place every week, giving the child a sense of consistency and containment.

Where will art therapy take place?

At Dysart, art therapy will take place in ‘The Haven’ – a specially designed art therapy room (symbol above). The room is equipped with art materials, a sand tray and space to express freely.

How long will my child have art therapy for?

Initially your child will be offered half a term of art therapy to allow them to get used to the routine and see if they can make use of the art materials and room to benefit their wellbeing. At the end of this period, we will think together with the mental health and wellbeing team about whether the therapy should continue.

Children will be offered art therapy for a minimum of one term. The therapist will check in with your child every half -term to assess how they are feeling about the process. When an end date is set, the child and parents will be informed and an appropriate countdown system will be set up. They will have the opportunity to bring any art making home with them following their final session.

How do I refer my child?

Children are referred through their class teachers. The mental health and wellbeing team assess pupil’s needs and allocate appropriate interventions.

How will I find out how my child is doing?

Art therapy sessions are confidential, so it is important that this is respected. The art therapist will however communicate with parents and teachers on general themes at the end of each term.

Meet our art therapist:


Hello, my name is Michelle, and I am a qualified and accredited art psychotherapist. I also have a background working with children who have complex needs.

I completed my art therapy masters at Roehampton University and have experience in the NHS, and charities working with young people and adults and in the community. I also used to be a teacher at Dysart school many years ago!

I work with a person-centred model, gaining trust and safety is essential for a therapeutic relationship to flourish. Creativity is the main form of expression in art therapy, avoiding the need to use conventional language if this is a difficulty.

If your child or young person is currently receiving art therapy and you have any questions about their sessions, please contact me via the school office email:  dysart-office@dysartschool.org

For further information on specific therapies, please click the link below:

British Association of Arts Therapists