Art therapy with Jonathan, a 6-year-old adopted boy
When Jonathan (a pseudonym) was living with his birth mother he was left to his own devices and not given much stimulus resulting in a deficit in attachment and attainment of developmental and cognitive milestones. He was referred to art therapy by his primary school Head Teacher and Special Educational Needs Coordinator.
Jonathan (a pseudonym) is a 6 year old adopted boy; he and his older sister have been living with their adoptive parents for over two years. Their current family life is secure; however they went into the care system when Jonathan was 18 months old.
When Jonathan was living with his birth mother he was left to his own devices and not given much stimulus resulting in a deficit in attachment and attainment of developmental and cognitive milestones. This has resulted in a propensity to appear in his ‘own world’ and sometimes have difficulty relating and sustaining interactions with his peers, occasionally hurting them and not understanding how it affects them. In addition, he may sometimes ‘lose it’ without warning.
Jonathan was referred to art therapy by his primary school Head Teacher and Special Educational Needs Coordinator. The sessions are weekly in school and last for 30 minutes. He has responded well to the sessions enjoying using a variety of art materials and actively engaging with his own themes and ideas. His images and creations are full of energy and expressive of his thoughts and the narratives he creates at the time, allowing a glimpse of his internal world. Over time Jonathan has learnt to expect his art therapy sessions and has begun to own and enjoy the space.
Through the sessions Jonathan’s confidence has grown. Teachers and his adoptive parents have reported that he is a happier boy and his temper tantrums are far less frequent.
‘(Jonathan) is increasingly making small improvements to engage more in class.’ (Class Teacher)
‘I think that (art therapy) has a massive impact and a positive influence on all the children that receive it in school. It has really helped.’ (Head Teacher)
‘We feel art therapy has had a positive impact and have observed positive progression, albeit slowly. He appears to like the sessions and enjoys the opportunity to express himself through differing mediums, particularly clay. He does seem more able to concentrate for longer periods of time. He also appears to be able to engage and interact more easily with his peers, although he continues to be comfortable in his own company. We have observed a steady improvement in his ability to deal with his emotions however more progress is still required.’ (Jonathan’s adopted mother and father)
Jenifer O’May, Art Therapist, Northamptonshire. HCPC Registration: AS13570