Triadic Art Therapy

The treatment involves child and caregiver in joint art-making sessions with a focus on cultural connectedness.

“Our language and culture is the window through which we see the world.”

~ Paul Disain, Stony Rapids, SK

Triadic Art Therapy program
This program includes 4 dyads (foster child and caregiver).
The plan for each dyad: 8 Triadic Art Therapy sessions (60 minutes each).
As preparation for their first session an Elder, leads a smudging and prayer. 
Session 9 includes all 4 dyads for an art therapy group activity, following a party and a ceremony. An Elder leads a smudging and prayer, it also includes food, and an acknowledgment of their participation.
Foster Children
  • Children who have been separated from their birth family experience a great deal of stress; this makes it vital to place them with another family who will accept them as their own.
  • Foster children often experience significant placement disruption, which can contribute to emotional-behavior problems (Smith, Stormshak, Chamberlain, & Bridges Whaley, 2001).
  • Constantly, having to adapt to new caregivers can contribute to attachment difficulties.
  • Approaches must consider children’s rights and family preservation, and foster families must be seen as part of a professional team.
  • Children in foster care frequently have experienced poverty and violence.  They often struggle with a history of neglect and mistreatment by their caregivers, grief for lost relatives and close friends, disorientation from the loss of their homes, multiple foster care placement transitions, and interaction with numerous systems of care (Lawrence, Carlson, & Egeland, 2006).
  • Foster children need to adjust to a new environment, which can sometimes involve fitting into a new culture.
  • These negative, inescapable experiences can impact the children’s neurobiology, with one consequencebeing long-lasting developmental impairment (Gomez, 2013).


Lawrence, C. R., Carlson, E. A., & Egeland, B. (2006). The impact of foster care on         development.Development and Psychopathology, 18, 57–76.

Smith, D. K., Stormshak, E., Chamberlain, P. & Bridges-Whaley, R. (2001). Placement    disruption in treatment foster care. Journal of emotional and behavioral disorders, 9(3), pp. 200–205.

Gomez, A. M. (2013). EMDR Therapy and adjunct approaches with children: Complex trauma, attachment, and dissociation. New York, NY: Springer Publishing company.

Triadic Art Therapy with Foster Children and Foster Parents
  • The art therapist leads the session with both the foster children and their foster parents.
  • The therapist assists the children in reducing trauma symptoms and supports them in their grieving process (Sun-Reid, 2012) while modeling the same for foster parents to be able to access.
  • The artworks that are created in art therapy are tangible and therefore may be an important means of communication between the child and caregiver (Proulx, 2003).
  • Triadic art therapy can help the foster parent understand the foster child’s behaviour.
  • The therapist supports and assists foster children in understanding the intentions of their foster parents.
  • Triadic art therapy leads foster children to build their communication skills, learn to express their needs to their foster parents, and help construct their capacity for self-autonomy.
  • Triadic art therapy aims to strengthen the triad’s connection, and the child’s creativity can be a tool to help them through difficulties (Shore, 2014).


Sun-Reid, H. (2012). Arthur’s journey: A case study of integrated therapy process.Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP).
Proulx, L. (2003). Strengthening emotional ties through parent-child dyad art therapy. London, UK: Jessica Kingsley Publishers Ltd.
Shore, A. (2014). Art Therapy, attachment, and the divided brain. Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 31(2), pp. 91–94, doi: 10.1080/07421656.2014.903827