Art is a powerful way to express oneself. Art therapy for children allows them to show their ideas and thoughts freely without the use of words. This kind of therapy became popular as it enhances the child’s growth and development, especially for children with special needs such as autism.
What Is Art Therapy?
Art therapy is the use of creative process and active art-making during therapy sessions under the supervision of a professional therapist. It improves sensorimotor function, manages emotional resilience, improves social skills, and fosters self-esteem.
Professional art therapists are trained clinicians who work with individuals of all ages guided by their scope of practice and ethical standards. They help people who are seeking spiritual and emotional growth.
Expressive art therapy can go beyond traditional simple talk therapy. It focuses more on the creative side as an outlet for ways of expression that can be helpful to young children. Art therapy is intended for stress relief ranging from medical conditions to serious emotional conflicts in life.
Art therapy is also a way a kid’s voice can be heard and appreciated, which could positively affect their behavioral and mental health. They feel safe and open up about a situation that may be difficult to share verbally.
You don’t have to be an artist to undergo art therapy. Openness and willingness are all you need to benefit from it.
Art Therapy for Children
Art therapists who work with children and teenagers have seen excitement and thrill every time they use art tools during therapy sessions. Children with trouble expressing their thoughts through verbal communication use art to display their feelings and emotions.
When a child is hesitant to open up and verbalize things, their mind starts to gain trust when the therapist introduces art-making. They suddenly feel relaxed, and communication flows easier.
In some movies, you will see children drawing something or playing with toys while talking to a therapist. This is what art therapy does. The art-making process can improve the child’s mental health, social skills, self-esteem, and overall well-being.
When kids explore different art mediums while in a therapeutic session, their creativity is enhanced by what their minds want to express. Art therapy also increases their attention span and ability to follow instructions given by the therapist.
Art Therapy in a Group Session
Art therapy in a group session can foster normal interaction due to the social component. It improves focus, verbal skills, eye contact, and on-task behaviors. In group therapy, individuals can find peer support, gain confidence to share their experiences, and easily open up to others.
The main point of joining group sessions is to eliminate the child’s feelings of isolation and boost their sense of normalcy. Participants can gain inspiration and strength from the resourcefulness of those who also experience the same situation they are currently in.
Art therapy is way different from art class. These classes focus more on the artistic outputs, unlike art therapy, where the ultimate goal is to help individuals express thoughts and renew their perspectives about life.
The Benefits of Art Therapy
Expressive art especially benefits children with special needs like autism and those who have undergone a traumatic experience and emotional disturbance. It has developmental benefits that process a child’s cognitive skills and perception, allowing them to learn about the world they live in.
Frightened children who are timid and refuse to talk are unsure how to communicate their thoughts. Art therapy is used to have a glimpse of what’s inside their head through the creative process. Furthermore, art therapy sessions give them a chance to escape negative thoughts and distractions.
Art-based therapy such as picture painting, role-playing, poetry writing, and music therapy utilizes a child’s creative process to develop coping skills and improve self-expression. The wonders of art therapy allow a child to discover things about themself as it processes feelings and emotions that are difficult to express.
Art expression can give your child overall better mental health and a sense of comfort. It lessens anxiety and stress to help a child overcome negative experiences. Group art therapy offers cohesiveness. It is where the participants feel a sense of belongingness, validation, and acceptance.
Cognitive Development from Art Therapy
Being creative helps us to see the world differently with a new perspective. Doing art activates regions of our brains and the frontal lobe responsible for problem solving and memory. Creating artwork releases happy hormones such as dopamine and can improve the artist’s morale and confidence, which are beneficial in treating mental disorders.
Physical Development from Art Therapy
Art therapy develops your kid’s behavioral and cognitive aspects and their fine motor skills. While creating a masterpiece using colors, paints, clay, and other art mediums, muscles in their hands, wrists, and fingers are used.
Children can gain control over their hand-eye coordination and flexibility as they rummage through those art materials, enhancing their motor skills. A simple paper scrunching, painting, pinching of clay, squeezing, and threading through pipe holes can exercise your child’s fingers, hands, and wrists.
How to Use Art Therapy
Art therapy is a form of non-verbal therapeutic communication. It can be used as a treatment for a wide range of behavioral and mental disorders. Expressions through arts and crafts help children and adults recover from trauma and negative situations.
Art therapists are responsible for conducting sessions that are applicable to different age groups. They help children and adults connect with their inner selves by providing activities that involve a creative process. Using art to tap into their most profound thoughts can result in unfiltered responses and honest feedback that they cannot express through words.
It is also beneficial for a child’s cognitive development. For children with autism, ADHD, speech defect, and other developmental disabilities, art therapy can provide a less overstimulating environment and distraction, allowing them to focus on the activity at hand. Art could be their way of communicating things that bother them or what is going on with their thoughts.
Letting your children engage in an artistic activity allows them to showcase their individual personalities and expression. It could lessen life frustrations and pave the way for an increased attention span.
The Healing Benefits of Art Therapy
In art, artists are free to reveal their works without constraints and restrictions. Pent-up feelings and unwanted emotions are easily expressed, which can improve mental health and life. Creating something through art can be a form of emotional release and a healthy outlet.
Art therapy can also be a form of healing. It can lower stress hormone levels during a 45-minute art session. Additionally, the use of artistic skills to adapt to changing conditions and building resilience helps us survive our downfalls.
Therapeutic art sessions come in a one-on-one talk setup or group sessions. The sessions channel negativity into creative outcomes that allow children and adults to communicate and overcome complex feelings and difficult situations.
Group art therapies can develop the universality and altruism of an individual. Knowing that their peers are suffering from the same situation validates their experiences. The feeling of awkwardness when starting to create art is universal to all participants until they realize that everybody is doing it, making their feelings of self-doubt just fade away.
When members of group art therapy help each other, it can also develop a sense of belongingness and purpose. It can lead to the improvement of an individual’s coping and interpersonal skills.
As the therapy session ends, the participants feel more fulfillment and hope. The progress with their developments is shown in how they improve their artistic expression from the beginning of treatment to their succeeding therapeutic sessions.
Artworks can outline what stage of depression or grieving a participant may be in. Understanding the participants’ struggles and stages of recovery through art sessions reduces their anxiety. They will learn and identify patterns in their behavior and avoid the unhelpful event that hinders them from moving on.
The Effect of Art Therapy on Your Child’s Behavior
A highly trained art therapist can help transform a child’s troublesome behavior into a normal one. Using art materials in a controlled environment under the guidance of an art therapist can be a form of mental health treatment. It can contribute to the reduction of psychosocial problems among children.
Art can become an alternative language for a child. For example, if a child is going through tough times due to academic failures or peer pressure, their social behavior and their performance at school can be affected. Art therapy can become an outlet merely to express their negative thoughts and a way to understand themselves and the situation better.
Undergoing a creative process and producing artwork gives us a sense of fulfillment and acts as a positive coping strategy. Bringing out those repressed thoughts and memories through art allows us to point out the main problem for a more effective treatment of mental issues.
Paintings and drawings can be more than just a source of enjoyment and entertainment. They can become your children’s diversion from the real world, where they can explore and express themselves freely.
Does your child need therapy? Do you think your child can benefit from art therapy? Book an appointment now here at Kentucky Counseling Center (KCC) and let the inner Picasso of your child come out.
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