Child & Parent Art Therapy


Dyadic art therapy is a way of working that focuses on the relationship between the child and the parent. The sessions are intended to enhance a parent’s understanding of their child’s thoughts, feelings and mental landscape. Through this understanding it is hoped the parent will have a greater ability to support their child.


Dyadic art therapy draws on attachment theory, neuroscience, psychoanalysis and developmental psychology. Recent research shows that a shared engagement in a activity with a caregiver has an impact on young children’s ability to attribute states of mind to other people.

How dyadic therapy is structured depends on the needs of the family. Dyadic art therapy can be stand alone or part of a wider package of therapy. It is a flexible, needs based approach.

Broadly there are three different approaches within this therapy.


Child-led Sessions with Parent as a Witness or Helper

This is where child steers the creative process. The parent is present during the session and can witness at first hand, gain insight, and contribute to reflection and understanding. The aims of this approach are to enhance parental sensitivity and understanding, facilitate reflective discussion.

Joint Engagement

This is where the parent and child decide on an activity together and engage in joint art making, experiencing the highs and lows of the creative process and reflective discussion. The aims of this approach are to provide opportunities for creative and playful shared activities. Enhance both parent and child’s understanding of each other’s thoughts and feelings. To try out new ways of being together.

Co-construction of a Coherent Narrative

This is where an event is examined and a creative time line is made. The co-constructing coherent narrative focuses on a shared narrative of the child’s life events. For parents, children and young people with complex backgrounds making and showing can be easier and less daunting way of communicating. The aims of this approach is narrative coherence, perspective sharing, trauma processing, acknowledging losses and developing felt security.


As part of preparing for all these types of therapy a parent has to be able to recognise their own thoughts and feelings, be able to think about their own experience of being parented, and be ready to learn new skills. If you are considering Art Therapy for your child, take the first step and contact me. From there I can answer any questions you may have and advise the best course of action for you particular needs.