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From You and Me to Us and We

  • Julia Sideris (a1)


Drawing on a wide body of theory, including work on trauma and art therapy, this paper calls for art therapy to be considered a seminal player in the healing of childhood trauma across a range of service providers. The paper reflects on a therapeutic relationship between a recently graduated art therapist and a 7-year-old Aboriginal primary school boy living in rural Australia. Written from the therapist's point of view, this paper considers the responses of both the client and the therapist, and the transformative nature of this particular therapeutic relationship. The paper focuses on ‘Jannali’ (pseudonym) who was referred to the art therapy programme in the school, as he was distracted, difficult and disruptive in class. Struggling with his identity, his place in the community, his family and his skin, the relationship between the art therapist and Jannali developed through art and play. Reconciliation, not in terms of black and white, but in terms of relationship was a main theme: therapist and client moved from a state of ‘you and me’ to one of ‘us and we’. The paper shows how, through art making and play in a specific therapeutic context, cross-cultural relationships were forged, opening up liminal spaces in which the client's presenting issues and difficulties were both explored and supported and he was able to begin his journey as a learner where previously he was not. These changes also indicate that breaking the transmission of transgenerational trauma and its effects may be possible through art therapy.


Corresponding author

address for correspondence: Julia Sideris, Department of Art Therapy, NSW, 2049, Australia. E-mail:


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I would like to pay my respects to the traditional owners of this land and to their Elders past and present.



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From You and Me to Us and We

  • Julia Sideris (a1)


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