Art  Child-Adolescent Psychotherapy  Education

Deborah Shaer​: artist & Arts Therapist 

The relatively short history of an adolescent comprises the germination from the point of entry and passage through personal experiences such as parental influence, home environment and culture that shape a young person’s perceptions of the world.  In an ideal scenario, the metaphor of blossoming from a seed to a flower may resonate with the joys of youth, but for a young person who encounters abhorrent violations, the infliction on flesh, bones and blood, corrodes the sweetness of poetry and innocence.  In therapy it becomes necessary to use metaphors for the crushing reality of sexual abuse and other violations. Communication with traumatised children and young people requires skill, sensitivity and knowledge.  Boundaries are always important but in cases where physical abuse have occurred, and suffering from trauma including PTSD, repetitive re-traumatisation is triggered when the young person is confronted by a persecutory authority figure.  This is where professional deficits in safeguarding children and young people are continually being violated whether in primary or secondary schools.  

The aim of this article is to bring to the attention at a governmental level, the mental and emotional damage inflicted on traumatised pupils by continuing Ofsted’s policy of ‘telling off,’ thereby inviting abuse of power stuffed in a grey cloud under the auspices of disciplinary measures.  After all the knowledge at our fingertips through professional training, child development, the volumes of case studies and progression in neurobiological evidence, WHY is this still being ignored? What will it take to wake up and see the normalisation of the devaluation of young people when their acting out behaviours may be flagging up issues that are often ignored, punished and perpetuated? 

I suspect that within the gaps of these questions there may be some uncomfortable questions that deflect the true answers.  I will repeat a quote I have used before from Carl Rogers’ Humanist approach because of its relevance in this context and in general.  I think that Ofsted could begin by posting this in every school staffroom.


Rogers, C R (2003), Client-Centered Therapy, London, Constable & Robinson Ltd.


'Sinking in tar' DS 2016

Copyright Deborah Shaer 2016. All Rights Reserved​

Author: Deborah Shaer, 15 February 2016, London

Rogers, 1951, 2003: 20

‘Do we see each… [child-adolescent] as having dignity in his [or her] own right?  If we do hold this point of view at a verbal level, to what extent is it operationally evident at the behavioural level?  Do we tend to treat [pupils] as persons of worth, or…. do we devaluate them by our attitudes and behaviour?  Is our philosophy one in which respect for the [young] individual is uppermost? ….To what extent do we have a need and a desire to dominate others?  Are we willing for the individual to select and choose his [or her] own values…..?