This Art Therapy thing. I’m going to keep banging on about it for a little bit. Mainly because I just keep getting SO MANY students parents/guardians telling me how different their mini-artist is since they started doing weekly art lessons.
There’s so many benefits from art therapy – the stress relief, the lateral cognitive development, the fine motor skills exercising – but (I think) more important than all those reasons, is the confidence that students gain by exploring the thoughts that they may not have the words to express.
In my studio I watch shy children, turn into young artists with a voice.
I watch how they grow from trying to “blend in” with the motley group that frequents my studio, to realising there are so many different characters that they couldn’t blend in, no matter how hard they try, so they start beaming their own unique little (and sometimes big) personality through the already character-cluttered studio.
I watch as the parts of them they choose to show turn from “I’m too cool for that” to “watch this really silly thing I can do.” I hear them as they proclaim to the class that they are “oddball” and “not like everyone else” and then I watch them make friends with other self proclaimed weirdos, and in finding a place where no one is cool, they find a space to be authentic with themselves.
I think at least half of my students have at some point told me they aren’t like anyone else. Whether this is born from their own ability to see their uniqueness, or their parents encouragement to be themselves without defaulting to mimicking the social norms – it doesn’t matter. What matters to these kids is that they congregate with likeminds. That gives them a kind of confidence to be who they are in the studio, and gives them the confidence to face the world outside of the studio.
In my studio I see young artists turn their newfound skills into confidence, and surely that confidence they carry has the best therapeutic value of all.
So go ahead and put a paintbrush in your mini-artists hand. Give them a space to be messy. Give them a challenge to complete. Give them the opportunity to develop the express themselves freely – and if possible do it with others.
If you’re on facebook feel free to share your mini-artists work on the Artlis Studios page or join our Kids Art Sharing Group to connect with other guardians of creative mini’s. We love to see your work!!
Since I first started working with aspergers students, and hearing first hand from them how much they felt art was relaxing and helping them concentrate on life, I’ve had so many questions from parents in regards to how art therapy can help their child.
My mini-artist sessions (both one-on-one and group classes) now consist of kids with aspergers, anxiety, ADD, hyperactivity and some who are just downright shy! My classes are also filled with such a huge range of characters, some who have told me they “don’t fit in with the normal kids”, some who have a normally interactive social life, and some who use my art classes as a chance to let their “real self be set free because no one in here cares if you’re weird.” The resounding feeling in every session I teach is that mini-artists feel safe to be just whoever it makes them happiest to be when they are doing art, because art can be ANYTHING so why shouldn’t they?
This is important for all kids to feel, but more particularly for those mini-artists who have been through trauma, or living their life with a disability or disorder. An important step in overcoming these issues, is knowing there’s no expectation on them to repress any parts of their character that may not match up to social expectations.
Clinical therapies can be efficient for kids that have to deal with such things, but that might not be the best approach for them. In fact, many times the issue comes from communication and in that situation talking won’t really make things a lot easier. Creative therapies can offer a great supplement to clinical therapy and give the student another avenue of expression, where they can explore feelings that they may not have the verbal capacity or mental maturity to express.
What art therapy does is that it uses the power of psychotherapy in order to address a variety of issues that the child has. However, it does that in a creative, interactive manner. This makes it very appealing for children and it also helps them stay away from stress.
Thanks to the aid offered by a therapist, kids have the ability to find the meaning of art, all while being able to create art on their own as they see fit. This helps art therapy become a one of a kind, refined creative outlet that delivers both value and a very good experience!
How can art therapy help a child?
There are many issues that can be addressed via art therapy, and these include:
- The death of a family member
- Behavioral problems
- The inability to understand physical disabilities
- Mental disorders
- Dealing with serious diseases
- Improving the cognitive abilities
- Learning disabilities
- Emotional problems and phobias
- Childhood trauma caused by various factors
How does art therapy work?
The art therapist can acquire art supplies and then he will place them in front of the child all so that he can learn how to use them. This is a very appealing, exciting and enticing experience. With the proper guidance, the child will be able to express himself and take better control over his emotions. Treatment can take place either in an individual manner if the child is shy but it can also work very well in the group setting, it all comes down to each child.
How does it support children in learning?
Thanks to art therapy children have the ability to express themselves and remove fear or stress, emotions that won’t help them learn anything. In addition, art therapy is designed in order to support creativity and interactions, things that make the therapy experience simpler and a lot more appealing for the child. If you want to help your child go through a bad time in his life easier and with the proper support, then art therapy is a worthwhile avenue to pursue.
Aside from all of that, art therapy can help a child become more confidence in his own power and for a creative mind, there’s no doubt that it relieves stress. So even if the only benefits you end up seeing are these few common ones, it’s worth a shot right?