Individual Work

Initial contact is rarely initiated by children/adolescents themselves. Of course this is entirely possible. In this, and almost all other circumstances, close communication with Parents, Guardians and significant others is valuable and necessary. How this is actually crafted depends upon what is appropriate and effective in each individual case, although what follows is a useful benchmark.

When a Parent, Guardian or Social Worker (thereafter collectively termed ‘Parents’) feels that Art Therapy might be appropriate for a child/adolescent (thereafter termed ‘Client’) in their care, they can contact me by telephone or by email.

What usually happens next is that the Parents are invited to attend an ‘Initial Consultation’. This is a free and fairly informal meeting, in the Artroom, giving them the opportunity to get a sense of me and how I work, as well as providing a forum for airing relevant issues. Fees will also be discussed. From this, we can collectively decide if Art Therapy seems like a good option and if not, which alternative course of action might be more appropriate. The Client would not normally be involved until this groundwork is done. I would rather establish the strong likelihood of Art Therapy being appropriate before beginning the process of engaging them personally.

The next step would be to meet with the Parents and the Client. My primary relationship will always be with the Client, so part of this meeting would be (in an age appropriate manner) to share what had been discussed in the Initial Consultation. Indeed, transparency regarding any future conversations with Parents would also apply, unless I felt it was against the best interests of the Client.

This second consultation gives the Client space to gain their own sense of whether or not they want to embark upon a series of 1:1 Art Therapy sessions. I usually recommend a trial batch of 4/6 individual sessions which will then be followed by a Review, attended by all of us once more.

What is shared in the individual sessions, both in terms of artwork and conversation, is confidential. Confidentiality will only be broken in cases of actual or potential risk. In any such case the Client will be clearly informed of what information I will be sharing, who I will be sharing it with, and why. This procedure will be made clear to all parties. In approaching the Review, the Client and I will discuss which pieces of artwork and which themes he/she wants to share. The Review then is the chance to selectively share what has emerged in the individual sessions with the Parents, and for the Parents to share their perspective of relevant issues outside of therapy. At this point we will also consider whether work should be ongoing.

If work is to be ongoing, it will follow the format of 7 sessions followed by a Review. When at all possible, sessions are on the same day of the week and at the same time. Once a Client is engaged in this manner it is important that the ending of therapy be planned well in advance collectively, and worked clearly towards.