Why art therapy in education?

Evidence shows that around three children in every classroom experiences emotional and behavioural difficulties; for these pupils learning can be very challenging. Art therapy as an intervention can assist with the psychological, emotional, educational, physical and social development of the pupil, helping them to engage more fully in school life and the National Curriculum. It can help increase positive school outcomes; improving behaviour, raising achievement and encouraging attendance. 


Art therapy in the familiar school environment is highly accessible, providing a vital service for young people and their families who would not otherwise access therapy; reaching those who may not meet criteria for referral to outside agencies or due to complex family circumstance. As an early intervention it can prevent further difficulties developing into adolescence and adulthood.

Referral and Assessment

Initial referral of pupils for art therapy may come from a range of sources, including teachers, support staff and parents. Pupils who may benefit from art therapy intervention include, but are not limited to those who:


  • are experiencing emotional and/or behavioural difficulties

  • ​are at risk of exclusion or have attendance problems 

  • have social or communication difficulties

  • have learning or physical difficulties

  • are struggling with life events such as bereavement, loss or illness

  • have experienced trauma, abuse or bullying

  • are asylum seekers or refugees

  • are Looked After Children

  • have Autistic Spectrum Disorders


The needs of the referred child are assessed in collaboration with school staff, parents, pupil and external agencies to establish treatment goals and objectives that are appropriate within the school system. Regular communication with relevant staff and parents continues throughout treatment to help maintain a consistant framework of support for the pupil. 

What art therapy can offer

Art therapy in schools can offer:


  • individual and group art therapy sessions for pupils

  • after school art therapy groups for children, parent and child, or staff

  • support for staff working with challenging pupils

  • inset training for staff

  • liason with staff, parents and outside agencies

  • contribution to reviews and multi-professional meetings

  • pre and post therapy assessment and evaluation of service