Art Therapy at Broadford Primary School
Our Art Therapy program has been running since 2009 with Art Therapist Robin Shipard. Robin has teaching qualifications, an art therapy diploma, and is currently completing her Master of Art Therapy at Latrobe University.
Many students and families have benefitted from participating in the program.
Students have said:
“It makes me calm.”
“It’s time to stop and think and relax.”
“It helps with my anger.”
“I love it.”
Parents have said:
“It was a bit sad to hear the expressions that he was feeling that came out from using this art therapy program, but it was good to see him getting his feelings out. Robin has been able to make him aware of his feelings, and to be able to use his feelings in a positive way.
“I think that the art therapy program is an invaluable part of being able to help children individually with their issues. Every kid needs something different and not one thing works for everybody.”
“For them to be able to play, relieve, unwind and express themselves with a professional therapist in the school setting is organic and natural and very powerful.”
Teachers have said:
“He now gives himself time to think something through, instead of just reacting. This is due to utilising sensory play in Art Therapy, where he practised thinking through and reflecting on things.”
“In art therapy children learn to connect with themselves and to find strategies that work for them, so that they can come back into the classroom and operate as a team.”
About art therapy:
The creative arts therapies are 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.
Art therapists have been trained to work therapeutically using the visual arts, including drawing, painting, and sculpture. Other creative modalities used by therapists may include: music, voice and sound; narrative and story-telling; creative writing and poetry; clay work; and sandplay therapies.
The profession has been well established and recognised in many countries such as the UK, the USA and Europe since the 1940s. Increasingly other countries are recognising the value of regulating the various creative arts therapies within one professional body such as ANZACATA.
The creative arts therapies use creative processes to help clients explore and express unconscious 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. A key feature of the creative arts therapies is that the processes are often pleasurable. This means that using the arts we are more likely to practice new patterns of more healthy behaviour. The activities practiced in this treatment model can thus provide new hobbies and interests which are vital for ongoing self-support.
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 dis-regulation. Creative arts therapies can increase resilience by improving the sense of agency and self-understanding through the ability to express feelings symbolically.
The creative arts therapies can be practised with individual clients, families and groups. 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 counter boredom and lack of engagement and provide the experience of safety, empowerment and the relief of symptoms of anxiety and/or depression through symbolic expression.
Art therapy myths:
‘Artistic types’ are best suited to creative arts therapies.
Creative arts therapies do not rely on artistic knowledge or ability. They work by accessing imagination and creativity – qualities which all human beings possess – in order to generate new models of living and contribute to the development of a more integrated sense of self.
Creative arts therapies don’t have scientific basis.
Evidence-based and practice-based research is well-established in all the creative arts therapies including visual art therapy, dance and movement therapy, dramatherapy and music therapy.
The art therapist interprets the work in art therapy.
Asking people to reflect on their own creative work is an important part of art therapy because it is understood that each individual brings their own cultural influences and personal experiences to their creative process. Client and therapist work in a collaborative manner aimed at empowering the person to discover their own sense-making.
Deboys, R., Holttlum S. And Wright, K. (2017). Processes of change in school-based
art therapy with children: A systematic qualitative study, International Journal of
McDonald, A., & StJ Drey, N. (2018). Primary-school based art therapy: a review of
controlled studies, International Journal of Art Therapy.