Home representations of at-risk children in an emergency shelter

Ofir Shtern-Eden, Michal Bat Or

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Research is limited about the home representations of at-risk preschool children staying in emergency shelter care. Aims: To examine representations of home in the house drawings and play narratives of eight at-risk children aged 5–6.5 years, in emergency shelter care. The one-on-one sessions held with the children has a uniform structure of a drawing task followed by play, forming an intermodal transfer. Methods: The qualitative data analysis of the drawing processes, the drawings and observation of the dramatic play is based on phenomenological and thematical approaches. Results: Three main themes were found: the house as a threatening space; expressions of difficulties in creating and maintaining the potential space; the added value of using drawing and play in the context of difficulties in creating or maintaining the potential space. Implications for practice and future research: The study’s findings illustrate the potential advantage of intermodal transfer–this apparently allowed them to move between languages of expression, and offered them different opportunities for emotional regulation. In addition, the different layers of information that were expressed can help art therapists to support the child’s mentalization process. Future research is encouraged to further examine home representations of at-risk children with larger sample using intermodal transfer. Conclusions: The study’s findings demonstrate the paradox that is bound within the invitation to draw/play about painful contents in art therapy, and the possible advantage in using intermodal transfer to mend the potential space’s interruptions and to enable further expression and working through.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Art Therapy: Inscape
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 British Association of Art Therapists.


  • art therapy
  • Children at risk
  • drawing
  • intermodal transfer
  • play
  • representations of home

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Psychology


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