Child Art Therapy

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Art Therapy Information : Usage of Art Therapy for Children With Depression

After his tie to this adoptive family was severed, his hopes turned to aggressive feelings, which he began to work through by expressing a fantasy of power, breaking the objects symbolic of his family, and cutting strings see Figure 6. The relationship between child and art therapist An art therapy product is quite a different thing in subtle ways from artwork made at other times.

For instance, the protocols of the art therapist in limiting time or presenting materials is different from other art-making times the child experiences, Further, the therapeutic decisions made during the course of a session structure the experience so that it is felt to be containing and safe by the child, yet is moving toward difficult areas that need to be examined.

The most important difference in setting apart the art therapy product from other artworks is that it was created in the context of the relationship between the child and the therapist. It is more than the simple presence of the therapist which defines the time as therapy. It is the way the child acts in this relationship which is of great interest to the art therapist.

Many art therapists working in the psychodynamic mode common today in Canada think that this may re-enact how the child behaved or felt in previous important relationships Rubin, In re-enacting these behaviors without conscious awareness, the child projects certain mental or emotional constructs onto the therapist. The art therapist, to facilitate this, aims to remain neutral both to accept the projections as does a screen and not to react to the child's expectations.

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Many art therapists feel this "transference," as it is called, is like a river that carries the therapy forward. Because of the protocols of this approach, a child's need to be hugged, for example, is probably not a need that would be gratified during a session. But when the session ends, the child goes back to the primary care worker and can have this particular need satisfied in a very positive and reinforcing fashion. In considering an art therapy product, the therapist seeks to understand all the processes of its creation: the transference, mannerisms, hesitations, random remarks, choice of media, nonverbal behavior.

The weighing of all these aspects to forma total picture of the child is based on the belief that all behavior, and hence all products such as art are meaningful. Art made outside the formal "frame" of protocols, the transference relationship, etc. Hence, other art products cannot be assessed with as much sensitivity or accuracy. The relationship between child care worker and art therapist The main difference between a child care worker and an art therapist is the focus of their attention with a child. With the child care worker it might be the behavior of the child in terms of what is considered acceptable behavior in a reality-based approach, related to the socialization process.

For the art therapist the behavior may be considered a form of communication, albeit a distorted message at times, which is available for analysis. The benefit of a two-pronged approach for treating both the motivation and the outcome will be more effective in the long term than treating either factor in isolation, A constant interchange between child care worker and art therapist can give some way of coping with frustratingly incomprehensible behavior by understanding what lies behind it, and for testing out hypotheses about a child's dynamics by checking them against the realities of information from "the other 23 hours" of a child's life.

Art Therapy - The Spread Your Wings Project

It helps lead both kinds of workers away from a one-sided view of the child. Most of the problems that may arise between the child care workers and art therapists may probably be traced to their different focuses on behavior and motivation, One difficulty was touched on in relation to the girl who drew "The Rose" Figure 5. Because of the premium placed on behavior, primary care workers often hope to hear that a child in art therapy has been able to openly discuss a problem. They can feel somewhat disappointed if this does not occur.

Here, the verbal self-disclosure is targeted as a short-term goal which is not necessarily shared by the art therapist. Thus, although the long-term goals are the same, the methods, protocols, and terminology differ at times. The structure of working in the fifty-minute private session can set up a situation in which the art therapist is seen more as a consultant to the team, rather than a member of the team. Creating this structure in a multidisciplinary staff, plus the mechanisms for "touching base" between art therapist and child care worker, heighten the quality of treatment offered to the client.

Primary care workers sometimes evidence uncertainty about the value of art therapy for children but are interested in play therapy. In fact there are many important affinities between art and play therapy; they can resemble each other in materials used and procedures followed. Furthermore, most art therapists have some familiarity with dramatic play plus music or movement as therapeutic modalities in addition to art.

This is so they feel comfortable following a child as he or she uses the therapy time to fulfill his or her needs. Often a child will move spontaneously, from painting a scene to acting it out, or incorporating puppets into a discussion of his or her artwork Rubin, However, the art therapist always comes back to the art, which remains the central focus. This specialization in art, with strong training in the process of therapy, is how the art therapist is different from other professionals who use art in their treatment.


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The value of an art therapy program to an institution Art therapy, as an effective modality for working with children, may be a valuable addition to the multidisciplinary team. There are, for instance, needs that cannot be met by traditional residential environments. A one-to-one therapeutic encounter centres on the individual child, and helps to identify those needs. The examples above are a few of the possible ways children can relate to the materials and the therapist.


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Through art therapy, less censored, less conscious, more emotional material is easily reached, This is because doing art can provide a direct and rich encounter with the realm of dreams, imagery, and impulses in each one of us, This means the art therapist will have information to offer the team that may complement that of other staff. Information gained largely through nonverbal processes is likely to help us all reach a more complete and rounded view of the client.

Many adult institutions use art therapy in assessment or diagnosis, and it can be of benefit in the formulation of treatment plans for children as well. Whether in a one-time assessment interview or in continuing therapy, the art products can be used for their predictive and evaluative qualities. Certain signs may give early warning of more serious psychopathology, and clues may emerge to the source of past trauma. In summary, by bringing a unique perspective to the understanding of the dynamics of a child's disturbance and by offering yet another tool for facilitating the resolution of that disturbance, art therapy contributes significantly to the quality and range of treatment the treatment team is able to supply.

Feder, B. Is there a way that you can do art therapy with your own children? Why not? So I started reading up on art therapy to see if my theory was correct and came to some interesting conclusions. One of the interesting things I learned from reading books by experts like Cathy Malchiodi was that Art is not therapy if it includes learning and fun.

If you are not thinking of becoming an art therapist but, still want some good, therapeutic activities you can do with children in art, I address that later on in this post. I will first discuss what art therapy is for, who it is for, a bit of its history and benefits and will then give you , the layman, some activities that you can do without being a trained art therapist. Classic psychotherapy is a verbal activity. The patient, be it the adult or child sits in a psychotherapists office and shares hopefully some of their deep and dark secrets to help heal all sorts of mental illness and some plain old issues like anxiety.

Children and often adults usually feel a loss of control in their lives and by putting their fears and angers on paper it is right under their control symbolically. It helps them control their past and their demons and it transfers over into the real world by making them able to deal with it in a better fashion.

The art also nurtures a sense of self and competence, helps discharges tensions and allows children to represent forbidden thoughts in socially acceptable ways. There is also something personally meaningful and authentic when creating with ones hands from ones imagination.

What is art therapy and can you be your own child’s art therapist

Art in itself has been used as a tool for communication for thousands of years. It was used before people even knew how to write. However, Margaret Naumberg born in NY in was one of the first recognized pioneers in the field of art therapy. She is often considered the founder of art therapy here in the United States. She started out as an educator, became a psychotherapist and then joined the two to become an art therapist.

She saw the importance of the inner life of the child and the ability to express it through art. She felt that that good art had just as much importance for a good education as the acquisition of knowledge. She even felt that it was maybe even more vital than verbal therapy.


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This was a bit different than using the art to heal but, is closely related. There were those that believed in art as therapy…the natural healing power of making and doing art. These were the ones who believed that most people could benefit from the healing power of art and felt that many teachers and parents could do this as well. They also believed that it was dangerous trying to be an art therapist if you were not trained. Since the creative process involved in the making of art is not only healing but life enhancing as well, it only goes to say that children and adults that are involved in art making have their lives well enhanced.

Doing art increases the brain levels of serotonin which is the chemical used to help lift depression, so the more art a child or adult is involved with the better they will feel. It helps them develop a respect for themselves. When children and adults have respect for themselves their behavior reflects their new feelings about themselves.

That is also because the making of art is healing and life-enhancing. It allows them the the opportunity to use their creative expression in so many different ways. There are many activities that you can do with children on your own that that have their own therapeutic benefit.

Even though you should never attempt to take the place of an art therapist there activities that you can do with children that are therapeutic and helpful for them without crossing the boundaries of stepping on the toes of a trained art therapist. It is very important to differentiate between crafts and real art for kids. It is super important not to impose your own ideas of what the art should look and how the children should create it. Even thought there are many great art activities, I am going to talk about 4 of them that can be helpful to all parents and teachers.

Three of them are more standard type art activities, and one is more geared towards specifically art therapy. Clay, painting, early reading books and mandala drawings are 4 activities you can incorporate into your children art activities to help them get some more therapeutic benefit out of the activities. There a few types of clay you can use, but the wet, gray clay or the white porcelain clays is best for this purpose.

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You can find out more on how to use these types of clay by checking out this post on modelling clay as well as the one linked to before this one. Check out the post on painting for kids , which will give you a good start on activities you can give children. When a child has had a frightening or disturbing experience you may want to make a book out of it with him or her.

The scientific benefits of creative practices and art therapy are well-documented, life-changing and endless. Each study examined more than thirty patients battling chronic illness and cancer. Children are naturally more comfortable expressing themselves with crayons than with words. Art Therapy helps them process trauma, express emotions, and navigate extraordinary challenges. It basically allows kids to be kids — whether they have suffered abuse, have been battling disease or have been traumatized in any way, Art Therapy supports them in being emotionally better equipped to move forward in life.

Art Therapy can benefit anyone: in a world where language is our primary form of communication, Art Therapy allows participant to express what they cannot say with words. In a landmark study done at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, after spending just one hour working on art projects of their choice, cancer patients reported significant reductions in eight of nine cancer-related symptoms, measured by the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale.