Art Therapy is beneficial for children and adolescents. Art is a natural and spontaneous means of communication. For children, art is a form of play, a fun and relaxing activity. This makes it a less threatening form of therapy.
Finding the language to express themselves in words can be difficult, especially for young children. The therapist builds up the child’s trust by providing a contained environment. Children have real fears and anxieties, and can be deeply affected by loss and change. They have overwhelming feelings and can be dealing with disruption and fragmentation in their lives. They may feel trapped by worries, withdrawn and isolated. Expressing problems makes them less powerful in the mind.
In the sessions, children are encouraged to explore difficult feelings through art making, using play and experimenting with art materials. Through the art, children can express things that they are struggling with. This is a playful and often messy process.
Art therapy can help the child develop healthy coping skills and focus. It can also reduce anxiety and helps to foster self-awareness. They have a chance to really be themselves and learn to explore their feelings. Art therapy stimulates imagination and creativity, while also increasing self-esteem and confidence.
Art therapy is a healing profession, with the ethos that all children can be helped and supported, based on the principles of care and love. In Art Therapy the child’s worries and emotions are valued, and they learn to know their own worth. Art Therapy is important for growth and well-being. It has many benefits and is helpful at all stages of development to support many different kinds of children with a variety of issues and presenting problems. Art Therapy can reach children who often appear unreachable. It provides a safe space to explore and express thoughts and feelings. Art Therapy is extremely versatile and effective.
Sessions are usually 1 hour, weekly, but sometimes reduced session times are more appropriate. This depends on the child, their age and the nature of the issue bringing them to therapy. For example, children with special needs usually need shorter but more regular sessions. I usually recommend an initial session with both child and parent present.
- Read full article: Art Therapy with Children
- Case studies: Children with Autism
- Video on Art with Children with Autism
“Tessa worked with my son James (who was 5 at the time), and I must admit I was astounded by the results. I asked Tessa to concentrate on independence, as my son has autism, and really battled to do things on his own. I could not quite believe it when James started toileting on his own for the first time. Thanks Tessa – you really achieved what you I asked you to achieve!” Tabitha, Cape Town