Are you familiar with art therapy? It is when the arts meets science. It is used as a tool to help diagnose and treat patients by tapping , seeing into their world thru visual and creative representation symbolism of the unconscious mind. .
One of the most beneficial aspects of art therapy is that it helps reduce the stress of being in a clinical setting. It is an effective way to help children cope with having a chronic illness. Children often use the art process to express and release stress, anxiety. Often times it validates what their are feeling and experience. It also puts some distance between themselves and their medical issues.
Art therapy is used to help children living thru traumatic experiences but not limited to:
- Death of a family member or friend
- Childhood trauma including physical, mental, or sexual abuse
- Coping with disabilities be it physical or learning
- Issue such as fear of abandonment or phobias
- Dealing with the challenges of serious diseases such as cancer
- Treating mental disorders such as schizophrenia or depression
- Understanding and treating behavioral issues
The final artwork in these sessions , is not as important as the process itself.The art is a means to:
- Self-exploration and self-expression
- Building self-esteem
- Clarity in sorting through, coping with difficult feelings and experiences
- Developing a sense of accomplishment
- Communicating with others
The process of art therapy depends on a lot of things: the art therapist, the age of the child, and the issue at hand . Generally , art therapists provide kids with age-appropriate art supplies and set them free to express themselves during the sessions. The therapist more often than not will prompt the child to get them started i.e. asking the child to draw a favorite place or maybe favorite food. Anything that might be of interest to the child and get them to open up. When done, the therapist will begin to question the child about the artwork in order to understand the thought process or feelings behind it . The therapist will then use that knowledge to come up with an effective treatment to have the child move forward.
For many kids, art therapy helps them tremendously. However, it is important to remember that every child is different and may not respond the same way to this treatment. Some kids will pour their hearts out on the page readily ,easily ,while others may require a little more time before they open up. This is true even for adults.
The most important thing in a child/therapist relationship is trust. Therefore, it is critical to take time to search for an art therapist that the child can connect with , thru research, meetings or personal recommendations.
What are your thoughts on art therapy? Personally, I am hard pressed from my own personal experiences, let alone professionally , not to be a supporter of arts and arts therapy to shape and help the mind and soul to heal, to grow. Let us know in the comment section below.
About the writer
Mazura Illani Manshoor graduated from Boston University with a degree in Psychology. She is a certified Early Childhood and a Montessori teacher with years of teaching experience.
She is also co-founded CreaTee and has the strong passion for children and education causes.