Art therapists’, supervisors’ and school counselors’ perceptions of the substitute art therapist's role in the education system during maternity leave

Racheli Raubach Kaspy, Sharon Snir, Dafna Regev, Shir Harpazy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: One of the key pillars underlying a successful outcome in psychotherapy is the personal relationship between the therapist and the client. However, when the therapist is absent for a long period of time, clients are sometimes referred to substitute therapist to maintain the continuity of the therapeutic process. Aim: To study the participants’ perceptions related to the replacement of art therapists in the educational system in Israel, in which when art therapists go on maternity leave, their clients are eligible by law to receive therapy from a replacement. Method: Six substitute art therapists, four art therapists who had previously been on maternity leave, five supervisors, and three school counselors were interviewed on the issues related to art therapist's substitution. The interviews were analysed according to the principles of Consensual Qualitative Research. Results: Disparities between the education system's view of the therapist as an employee, and the art therapists themselves with respect to their therapeutic and educational role emerged as key challenges. Implications for policy: The lack of standardised procedures and budgets makes it difficult to cope with these challenges. The discussion suggests ways to streamline this process. Plain-language summary: Many art therapists are obliged to be absent for an extended period of time from their work. In some cases, referral of clients to a substitute therapist is important. However, replacement is complex because the essence and success of all therapeutic relationships are founded on the establishment of trust, presence and the consistency of the therapist. The issues become more challenging in the education system, where the encounter between the two languages–the educational and the therapeutic, is in any case complex. This study examined the role of art therapist substitute in the education system by focusing on the perceptions of six substitute art therapists, four art therapists who had been on maternity leave, five field supervisors who had accompanied the transition process for a substitute, and three educational counselors who also accompanied these processes. The study applied the principles of qualitative research to better characterise and understand the phenomenon of the art therapy replacement and lay an initial foundation for the creation of an effective working model for the substitution period. The findings deal with five key areas: systemic and organisational aspects of the process of replacing art therapists in educational frameworks, the actual process of replacement, professional challenges and dilemmas facing the substitute during the replacement period, the interviewees’ experiences and feelings during replacement, and contributory factors and recommendations for the substitution process. The importance of appropriate procedures for the replacement of art therapists when dealing with the complexity and management of an optimal substitution process is discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)26-35
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Art Therapy: Inscape
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


  • Substitute art therapist
  • art therapists’ perceptions
  • education system
  • maternity leave
  • school art therapy

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Rehabilitation


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