Children are lovers of all things fun, creative, and freeing. They won’t hesitate to take a paint brush or pen and create pictures of their wildest dreams. In our world today, young kids are experiencing more stress than usual with school, growing up, and being around technology all the time. With mounting pressures affecting them more than ever before, some parents wonder what will help them naturally take the edge off without being too invasive of their space. For children who already have mental illnesses like high anxiety, PTSD, or depression, the answers can become even vaguer since they aren’t as skilled in articulating what symptoms they are feeling. A child may think the world is crashing down around them, and overly exaggerated what is going on. On the flip side, they may be quiet and hesitate to say they’re feeling “out of it” or in pain because they don’t understand what is happening.
For a child who is showing frequent signs of stress or anxiety at school or at home, using art therapy is a great way to get them to open up and reflect on their environment. They have the choice to connect with their feelings in a safe space and aren’t in fear of being judged during an art therapy session. Better yet, they can work with the counselor leading the session to talk about what they are feeling and learn more about their personalities. This is essential, since children don’t yet have a strong grasp on who they are, why they’re afraid of, and what they want in life. No matter what, children are guaranteed to have fun in art therapy and will want to show the world what magical pieces they can make from it. Let’s look at the ways art therapy works and how it’s perfectly suited to help our tiny tots.
Using Art Therapy
Art therapy is a great way for very young children to communicate easily and without fear. Originating in 1904 by Margaret Naumburg, art therapy can take on many forms and is used for patients of any age if they wish to start. Like any other therapy process, both the patient and the therapist has to remain patient and open to change for it to be successful. Unlike other methods, however, art therapy is unique for the following reasons:
- Art therapy can include any kind of art medium. Traditionally, painting, crayons, colored pencil, charcoal pencils, and even clay sculpture were used for patients during their sessions. Typically therapists choose what medium would best suit the patient and after hearing suggestions from the patient. Today, with the amount of digital tools to our use art therapy includes digital collaging, 3D printing, animated drawings, and digital painting done from a laptop. This allows patients to be able to complete sessions in the comfort of their own home if they wish to do so. For children who may be shy of hospitals or confined environments, digital art therapy is a great alternative to improve their mental health over time.
- Art therapy allows clients young and old to better process their inner thoughts and understand what stress might be present in their lives. Some of the most popular art therapy methods are active imagination therapy, gestalt art therapy, and third hand. Active imagination allows patients to practice free association with words or images that come to their mind while they create art. Gestalt art encourages clients to use art along with language instead of analyzing their external environment. For patients suffering from anxiety, this is great so they can better reflect on their own feelings and thought process instead of reacting to the world around them. Third hand has the therapist helping the client produce artistic images together by digital media, collaging, or other mediums. Through this method, the two parties can develop a strong bond and better communicate their thoughts.
- Art therapy helps children build self-expression, positive perspectives, and stronger self-independence from the negative events or people in their life. A child can work through any difficult feelings or experiences by drawing about them instead of painfully explaining every detail. It also is a great way for them to unwind after a long school day or get out of the house if they feel stuck at home.
- Art therapy is exciting and always different. No session will be exactly the same, since art is an ever changing form of self-expression. Every art piece a child draws will take on a different persona or show a different story from their imagination. This is enjoyable for the therapist to see and serves as a fun activity for the child if they build a positive relationship over time. Parents don’t need to worry about the therapist accomplishing this since they have years of intense training in social work, art therapy, and even psychology under their belt. .
Art Therapy In The Future
As technology continues to disrupt our lives and what we know to be true, so will the form of art therapy. The method of treatment was much different one hundred years ago compared to today. Luckily, people of any age can benefit from art therapy since it allows one to decompress, let go of their fears, and gain self-awareness. Children especially have an important voice since they are the future of our society and often have a fresh perspective on our world. They should be given the chance to unlock their inner imagination and help them engage more fully with their environment. Since younger children also usually have a lot of questions about new things like therapy, it’s important that they feel listened to and supported from start to finish. If you also want to learn more about what art therapy services are available in your local community, check out what is located in arts centers, nearby universities, and counseling locations. Some areas might specialize in art therapy for younger patients like children. Be sure to know all your options are before making a big decision that could impact their health!