Art therapy is a psychotherapeutic treatment which is based on the natural healing function of the imagination where the use of art is the primary form of expression. It is a psychodynamic, child-centred intervention that uses images and art-making to express and think about thoughts, feelings and experiences.
In Art Therapy, the child/young person is encouraged to use art materials and other objects to explore feelings and work on problems. An important part of therapy is the therapeutic relationship between the client and the therapist, and this is developed through working creatively together and talking.
Difficult feelings and experiences including traumatic ones can be expressed safely and supportively during the art therapy sessions.
The child/young person will have the chance to try a range of materials such as paints, clay, collage, sculpture and mark-making tools to find his/her own comfortable way of working. The images and art-making process work both as a vehicle for further communication and reflection. This way of working can help the child to trust in their own choices and creative responses, and can contribute to improved insight, understanding, self-esteem, self-awareness and self-confidence.
Why Art Therapy?
Children and young people can find it difficult to respond to counselling and talked based psychotherapy because it can make them feel self conscious, because they are inarticulate, because it may be too shameful to say things out loud or because they simply don’t have the words to describe what has happened to them. Making art engages the whole person – mind, body and emotions, and involves interaction with the physical world through the materials, and this is witnessed and reflected back by the Art Therapist, helping the child to develop self-awareness. This experiencing of creating, discovering and overcoming problems can help to create a solid foundation upon which learning can be built.