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Dyadic art therapy is an intervention delivered by qualified art therapists. In the UK art therapists must be registered with the HCPC and meet the HCPC Standards of Proficiency.

Therapists should also be able to demonstrate the following specific competences.

Therapists should have an understanding of

  • developmental trauma and the impact this has on the child’s development

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms and sensitivity to the child’s ability to tolerate traumatic memories being exposed

  • how the nervous system is impacted by trauma and stress including how to help it calm and whether a child is being activated into a stress response (fight, flight or freeze) or whether they are able to manage higher level reflective functioning

  • the difference between therapy with a birth parent and their child and therapy with a fostered or adopted child

  • parenting strategies particularly those for children with disturbed attachment behaviours so the therapist can help the carer understand behaviours and to respond to them

  • child development including stages of a child’s art development

  • attachment theory

  • psychotherapeutic ideas of how the self is built up and strengthened

  • alternative theoretical frames and an openness to many ways of working

Therapists should be able to

  • use within-session events to address carer’s affective responses and understanding of child’s behaviour

  • maintain an intersubjective stance

  • help carers think about the impact of their own history on their current parenting

  • make a broad assessment of adult and children’s attachment styles, recognising unresolved trauma in the adults

  • develop an understanding of the child for the carer and for the child, so that the child’s feelings can be seen and acknowledged, and so the child can begin to regulate his/her own feelings and the carer can help to soothe and contain them

  • recognise contra-indictors to Dyadic Art Therapy

Further information

For more information about how these competences were developed, visit the Delphi study.