Art Therapy for Children

Have you ever caught yourself doodling? Or do you remember playing with colors, paints, and markers when younger? You may recall feelings of openness and creativity. Those are just two of the experiences that make art therapy effective for children.

Why Use Art Therapy?

It’s not always easy for kids to open up to a new person and in a new setting. Often times they don’t have the words or mental imagery quite yet to understand their feelings. Because kids are often naturally creative, art therapy can a safe, unobtrusive outlet for them to share their feelings. Children can enjoy exploring through paints, crafts, clay, and other hands-on materials while the therapist encourages topics of conversation and offers insights. Additionally, art therapy is particularly helpful for children with limited vocabularies and children with expressive language difficulties. This style of intervention with children can offer an outlet for them to communicate their histories, feelings, and reactions. Moreover, art therapy can help children focus on safety so that they better recognize healthy and unhealthy situations.

How Art Therapy Works

Art is a symbolic language that tells a story in pictures, shapes, movement, color, and mood. Art therapists use all types of art mediums including drawing, painting, making masks, and creating collages, to name a few. Once the art is on paper, therapists can help children talk about the underlying issues that inspired their projections. Kids don’t have to be natural-born artists to benefit from art therapy because it’s about the process of understanding emotions, rather than taking pride in the finished art project. Drawings and other art mediums depict children’s feelings that are too difficult to express in words. Art projects are also useful to show children how they respond to others when they experience big feelings.

These projects help to open up dialogue between therapists and children. This includes the value of using coping strategies to explore their thoughts, feelings, and actions in a healthy way. The overall process of art therapy can strengthen children’s sense of self so that they are happier and have stronger relationships.

About Susan Gehrig, PhD

Susan Gehrig, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and founder of Paradox Psychological Services located in Carlsbad. She has a passion for supporting the wellbeing of children and teens. Her expertise is in child mindfulness and self-compassion, cognitive behavioral therapy, and child development. Dr. Gehrig provides psychoeducational testing and therapy services to help build a plan for success. Paradox provides services for families of San Diego North County and greater areas.

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