The Elementary School and Art Therapy: Integrating Educational and Therapeutic Goals

by Debra Barrett

This project is designed to explain the efficacy of art therapy for children within school systems, while at the same time pointing out the commonality of purposes contained in both the educational and therapeutic goals.  It is intended to elaborate and define all relevant concerns for those involved with children and their emotional, social and educational welfare.  Key issues relevant to any person directly involved with children have been addressed.  Answers to questions and concerns about art therapy that may be expressed by school distract administrators, school principals, teachers, counselors, special needs workers or social workers have all been included.

Foundations for this work involved training in all aspects of art therapy delivery, from initial assessment techniques and the dynamics of therapy relationships to post-treatment ethical considerations, and a wide exposure to many psychodynamic theories which serve to open and enliven actual practice.  Over eight hundred hours of practicum experience (taking place over two years) provided the case study material on which to base reflections about the fertile aspects of accessing creativity and mental health using art therapy.

Terms central to both the educational and therapeutic goals are defined in a comprehensive glossary.  This helps to clarify the essential common ground for both sets of goals.