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for a therapy that goes beyond words

art therapy bologna rivkah hetherington

about art therapy 

Art therapy is a method that unites aspects of artistic creativity (the sensations evoked by artistic materials) together with a quest to find out more about yourself and work through problems and frustrations. As such, in Italy it is considered a psychodynamic therapy while in the United Kingdom and the United States it is recognized as a form of psychotherapy.


about the art therapist

Rivkah Rebecca Hetherington is an English-speaking Art Therapist, who did a 4-year training at Art Therapy Italiana school. She is registered with the HCPC in the United Kingdom as an Art Psychotherapist and is on the Italian art therapist register kept by ApiArt (Professional Association of Italian Art Therapists). In Italy, she is a registered Psychologist. She is also a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, specialized in techniques for renegotiating traumatic experiences. These may be physical accidents, violence and abuse suffered within relationships, or microaggressions encountered in social situations due to racism, ageism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia or other prejudice. She is also specialised in working with Third Culture Kids. She holds sessions in both English and Italian. She has a private practice in the Savena district of Bologna (easy to reach from Murri, Mazzini, Ponticella, San Ruffillo and San Lazzaro) where she works with both children and adults. Find out more ...

what my clients say about me

"I met Rebecca Hetherington when I decided to try an art therapy group, which I joined almost by chance, at the age of 22. Right from the beginning, the world of everything I could not say was opened up and magically appeared, expressing itself through my drawings. Finally I could get close to what was unsaid, to what needed alternative ways to be expressed.

Find out more ...

what others say about me

Link to a newspaper article published in the University of Bologna's online journal about my art therapy practice,

with specific focus on my work with users in the autistic spectrum.

processing trauma with Guided Drawing

An innovative technique for whoever would like to connect with their creativity and bodily perceptions on a deep level.

I am pleased to offer Guided Drawing sessions: it is a drawing technique that uses both hands simultaneously in order to activate both brain hemispheres and stimulate communication. It was developed by Cornelia Elbrecht, founder of the Institute of Sensorimotor Art Therapy in Australia as a method for processing traumatic experiences.

Find out more ...

Per adulti
for adults
art therapy individual meetings in Bologna

I offer individual therapy in English in Bologna, for those who want to work through something specific,

grief for a loss or death, a difficult period of transition ... for those who want to do delve deep into themselves ... for those who have a diagnosis or personality disorder they would like to manage.

art therapy couples meetings in Bologna

I offer therapy for couples in English in Bologna. It is aimed at those who want to overcome difficult periods in their relationship and find new ways of communicating with their partner as part of a plan to change unhealthy dynamics that can easily weigh a relationship down.

art therapy group meetings in Bologna

for those who want a social experience, working together with others and exploring themes in common with others. Above all, a way to understand how we relate to others.

per bambini e adolescenti

for children and teenagers

children's art therapy in Bologna
For children:
individual and group therapy in English

I offer therapy in English in Bologna for all children aged 18 months up and I am specialised in working with Third Culture Kids (children who have lived in more than one country, normally due to their parents' jobs). Art therapy can promote healthy development and help children gain confidence in life.

It can offer valuable support for those who are followed by a child psychiatrist and/or have a diagnosis within the Autistic Spectrum, a Specific Learning Difficulty,  a Behaviour Disorder (such as ADHD, ODD, CD) or an Eating Disorder (anorexia, bulimia or compulsive overeating) .


 It can be a useful space for adopted children and foster children to work through attachment issues and explore their identity.

For teenagers:
individual therapy in English

Teenagers may find it difficult to seek help from adults. Art therapy offers a non-threatening way for teens to express their inner feelings by expanding their creativity and allows an outlet for the stress of high school years.


"It can offer a support system for adolescents living with abuse, depression, lack of self-control or sudden social or academic failures." (S.Riley, 2001)

Whether you just need some downtime and private space or you're coping with a relationship crisis or scholastic failure, or living with an eating disorder or other diagnosis, the art therapy studio offers you a space and time of your own.

I am specialised in working with teenagers who have grown up as Third Culture Kids.

per persone LGBTQI

for specific issues


Depression can seriously affect an individual's entire life-situation, as it drains the body of energy and leads to a reduced level of activity in everyday life. Anxiety disorders can cause serious obstacles in social functioning due to a level of fear that becomes unmanageable and intolerable. It may cause phobias that limit an individual's social life.


Depression can inhibit thinking capacity, capacity for self-expression and reduces the ability to communicate. Art therapy provides tools for self-exploration with increasing self-awareness, awareness of what affects the individual and of response patterns occurring in everyday life. It promotes both self-expression and communication in both verbal and non-verbal forms. 

(taken from 'A realist review of art therapy for clients with depression', The Arts in Psychotherapy 40, (2013) 322-330


 The journal 'European Psychiatry' has published articles that promote the use of art therapy as an integrative treatment both for recurrent depressive disorder and for anxiety disorders. (S852, March 2015 and EVS25, March 2016).


Autistic Spectrum Disorder refers to a range of diagnoses which are characterized by impairments in social, communication, and imagination skills and the presence of restricted or repetitive behaviors to greater or lesser degrees. In an article published by the American Art Therapy Association (26:4, 187-190), Nicole Martin explains how art therapy has a unique ability to address several specific and difficult treatment goals by capitalizing on the desirable use of art materials that are compatible with ASD symptoms. Lack of imagination and abstract thinking skills is one of the three major deficits of autism yet is the one least often addressed by most therapists; art therapists have a unique ability to improve these skills. Sensory regulation is often less stressful for the client in art therapy because the art provides a product to focus on beyond the process of integrating uncomfortable sensory experiences.


Mel Gazeas (Canadian Art Therapy Association Journal, 25:1, 15-22) has found that thanks to art therapy  individuals with ASD have gained greater competency in their ability to relate and identify emotions in themselves and others and this is confirmed by my own experience of working with children with autism.

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Eating disorders must be distinguished in two groups: those that are about controlling the body by controlling its intake such as Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa and those that are about defying that control such as Binge-Eating Disorder. Research published in the University of Madrid's journal of Arteterapia (vol.9, 2014) suggests reasons for the efficacy they met with in using art therapy as an integrative method of treatment for Eating Disorders. They found that the emotional relationship between the person and the artwork they created in therapy mirrored the emotions they harboured towards themselves including hatred, judgement and insecurity. As the individual began to nurture a more positive attitude towards their creations, this also began to be seen in their attitude towards their own body. 


The term 'learning difficulty' or disability covers a wide range of diagnoses of varying gravity. It should be clear that art therapy cannot help with the disability directly but it can help with many of the emotional problems and social stigmas that can accompany learning difficulties.

In 2017, the International Journal of Art Therapy published an article (22.2.84-94) citing the results of a survey of 60 art therapists working with people with severe learning disabilities and challenging behaviour in the UK; 65% of respondents worked within the National Health Service (NHS). The therapists reported that art therapy offered a wide range of benefits to people with severe learning disabilities and challenging behaviour. The therapists’ perceptions of their effectiveness included providing safety and containment, empowerment, a thinking space to reflect and process, and an opportunity to develop a meaningful and trusting relationship.

for trauma
the link above is for adults
for children: click here

The extent and effect of trauma depends not only on the event itself but on the individual's ability to regulate their affect and distress. When the distress is too great to allow the formation of a memory followed by a grieving process, repression and/or disassociation takes place, and this can cause lasting complications leading to emotional, mental and personality disorders. Savneet Talwar reminds us that 'when treating trauma, it is not the verbal account of the event that is important, but the non-verbal memory of the fragmented sensory and emotional elements of the traumatic experience. Art therapy has long been recognized as a method that constitutes a primary process that taps into the non-verbal realm of imagery. Successful art therapy can serve to integrate right and left brain functions that, in turn, help integrate experiences  especially on a non-verbal level'. (The Arts in Psychotherapy 34, 2007, 22–35)


Being LGBTQI isn't a problem but living in a society that expects you to be someone you're not can make life hard. When a person grows up feeling judged and unaccepted, they may adopt various defense strategies to compensate : from hiding aspects of themselves from others to playing the rebel. We have internalised so many social, cultural and religious judgements that it becomes difficult to find our own self amongst them. When I react to defy, I am no more my self than when I act to comply.  Art Therapy can help with accepting who you are, deciding if, when or how to come out and, if you wish to transition, it can offer you support during this process using practices such as body-tracing.

altre terapie

other therapies

reiki and art therapy in bologna

Reiki is a form of therapy based on energy that is increasingly spreading in the West. Energizing, balancing and relaxing, it helps us to free ourselves from negative thoughts that can create energy blockages and be the cause of destructive actions in our lives..

metamorphic technique and art therapy in Bologna

The metamorphic technique is a practice that developed from reflexology. It uses the spine's reflex points that are found along the feet, the hands and the skull to release blocks of energy that were formed between the moment of conception and the time of our birth. It's a real metamorphosis!

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Some people describe Guided Drawing as a form of meditation. It can help you connect with your creativity at a deeper level. The technique was designed by Cornelia Elbrecht with the specific intention of processing traumatic and painful experiences in a non-verbal way. 

per la formazione negli ambienti di lavoro

art therapy for training

and team-building in the workplace

experiential day of art therapy in Bologna

They allow training on a specific theme that's relevant to everyone. They offer a taste of art therapy and its potential. They are often the initial choice, which can become the first stage of a working relationship that  establishes itself over time.

art therapy workshop in bologna

They allow training that is built up over time on different themes, with emphasis on strengthening resources over time and team building. They allows participants to be the course's protagonista and bring the topics to be dealt with.

art therapy seminars in bologna

They allow training that explores inter-relational aspects and group dynamics. They allow the creation of deep bonds between those who share and witness meaningful experiences and moments of authentic expression.

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