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Richmond Hill School


At Richmond Hill we grow independence, build communication and believe you can achieve your personal goals.

What is Art Therapy?


Art Therapy (also known as art psychotherapy) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on art-making as its primary mode of expression and communication. Clients do not need any prior art experience or skill, as the aim of the session is not to create something aesthetic, but rather to focus on the process of art-making. Art therapy is an intervention that can be beneficial to infants, children, adolescents and adults, but the following paragraphs focus on how art therapy is used with Primary aged children with Special Education Needs.


Children are encouraged to express and communicate how they feel through the art that they create in their session. They also have the opportunity to learn social skills, gain cognitive growth and obtain coping mechanisms through the resolution of frustration and self-regulation. They can practice valuable life skills such as sensory stimulation, self-confidence and pride in their work, sharing art materials with their peers in groups and hand-eye coordination. Though the art therapist does not have a teaching role, practical skills are learned such as; how to find and put away art supplies, using certain tools and the importance of tidying away materials and cleaning up.


The art made by students within the therapeutic session is quite varied. The children are provided with a variety of materials to choose from and sessions may involve; making collages, drawing or painting pictures, crafting puppets and creating sculptures, among other activities. All of these are ways for the child to express their feelings through play and to provide information indirectly to the therapist.


Which children may benefit?


Children with experience of:

Neglect, Physical illness, Mental illness, Sensory impairments, Bereavement , Bullying, Learning difficulties, Cognitive difficulties, Sensory Processing Disorders, Speech impediments , Communication barrier, Domestic abuse, Looked after children.


Showing characteristic such as:

Withdrawn, Lacking in confidence, Depressed, Aggressive, Angry, Chaotic, Anti-social.


Expressing behaviours that are:

Obsessional, Self-destructive, Phobic, Unpredictable.


Referrals to art therapy can be made by Teachers, Deputy Head teachers, Head teachers, SENCO’s and parents. Following referral, the parents/carers are contacted for consent and to speak with the art therapist about their concerns and wishes for how art therapy may benefit. The art therapist will meet with the student for a short introduction session so the students can get used to the room and the therapist. An assessment period of 4 weeks allows the therapist, student, parents and teachers to understand whether art therapy is the best fit for the child. If it is agreed a good fit, the therapy will continue on with regular 6 week assessments until all agree that the student no longer needs art therapy intervention. 


The content of the sessions is strictly confidential within the school team including the artwork made, which is kept in a safe and secure place on the school site between sessions.  If a child is deemed to be at risk, the art therapist will adhere to the school's procedures in their Child Protection Policy.


If you would like to refer your child for art therapy then please speak with class teachers or pathway leads.  If you have any further questions about the art therapy service please direct these to the office at

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