An Interview with our Art Therapist Alison Peebles

Thu 06th September 2018

Through our Young Gallery programme, Impact Arts run free parent-child art therapy sessions for children and caregivers living in Glasgow.

The service is available to children aged 5-12 affected by alcohol use in the household, and the aim is to increase the bond between a caregiver and the child, offer an environment to express complex emotions, and to improve health and wellbeing generally.

We spoke to our lead Art Therapist and Co-ordinator Alison Peebles about the art therapy programme we offer, her role with Impact Arts and how children can benefit. If you would like to discuss the programme or make a referral, you can contact Alison on 0141 575 3001 or email [email protected].


Art Therapist Alison Peebles


What is art therapy?

Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses a variety
of art media as its primary mode of communication and expression. It’s a
particular useful method of finding ways to explore difficult emotions; I use
art to help children deal with emotions including loss, grief, transitions,
attachment, emotional, bullying, mental health, behavioural issues and
confidence issues among others.


What is your role
with Impact Arts?

As Art Therapist and Art Therapy Co-ordinator for Impact
Arts’ Young Gallery programme, I work on a day-to-day basis with primary school
aged children for individual and parent-child art therapy sessions.

We work with children in the Glasgow area who are affected
by familial or household substance or alcohol use. It’s a particular area of
need: Glasgow has some of the worst alcohol/drugs problems in the UK, with an
estimated 5,283 children directly affected by parental addictions.


Art Therapist Alison Peebles reading a novel


Talk us through the structure of an art therapy session

Sessions typically last one hour, with the structure of these sessions varying. The sessions are child-led, with other variations being based on suggestions from the therapist. The choice of art material can also add structure to the sessions – for example, if a child is feeling stressed or anxious, suggesting they use watercolours can help them relax. But the children are always made aware that they can make their own choices in sessions.


What is your
background? What do you find fulfilling about your role?

I originally trained in printed textile design, before going
on to train as an art therapist following a post within a mental health charity
as a screenprint instructor. I’ve now been a practising Art Therapist for 22

I find it fulfilling to develop a therapeutic relationship
with children – seeing the development of children’s creativity is joyful.


Puppets Alison uses in her practice

What exactly is dyadic art therapy?

Dyadic art therapy focuses on developing the relationship between the child and a caregiver (or caregivers). It involves the therapist working with the child and the caregiver in a safe, therapeutic setting. It can be very helpful in strengthening the bond between a child and caregiver through creative and playful activities, enhancing the caregiver’s sensitivity to the child’s needs and encouraging the child’s sense of safety.

What benefits do you see arts and creativity having on the client group you’re working with? How have clients changed?

Therapy can make an enormous difference in the children we
work with. You can see increased confidence, more of a tendency to express
themselves, an increase in creativity and art, improvements in relationships,
better engagement with education, and better emotional resilience. It’s
also great to work as part of a team with parents, social work, education and
other partners to strengthen the family system.


One-to-one art therapy is open to primary school-aged children in north east Glasgow who are affected by drug or alcohol use in the family network.

Dyadic parent-child art therapy is open to primary school-aged children across Glasgow who are affected by alcohol use in the family network. Note: the adult in dyadic therapy does not need to be a parent – they could be the caregiver, a foster parent or another adult in the family.

If you are interested in making a referral or finding out more, please contact Alison Peebles on 0141 575 3001 or email [email protected].

Our Art Therapy work is funded by the Corra Foundation and the Scotch Whisky Action Fund.

Alison next to the play tent she uses in sessions.

Alison next to the play tent she uses in sessions.

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