What is Art therapy?

Amanda Marais

Why is it so effective, especially with children?

To establish trust and to empower the child to take the risk of facing his/her fears, it is necessary to seek ways of communicating in a meaningful way. The hardest part of therapeutic work with children are the times when the child did not communicate with something risky, but then is prepared to confront that information.

Art therapy advances emotional expression, it brings about more understanding and insight and helps to find solutions to problems. The main role of the art therapist is to help a child/client with empathy, professionalism, good communication and insights, to lead him/her to healing.

The ideal circumstances for therapy to advance creativity and healing, are in a studio with art materials and equipment which allow the client to use art, so that self-expression can take place in a safe atmosphere. The art therapist facilitates the use of art in the process of healing.

Art therapy is a natural choice for children and ideal for youths who feel uncomfortable when questioned directly. When the child makes his or her artwork, there is a golden opportunity for the therapist to observe and to learn what his or her personal way is to handle the experiences.

The creative process reduces stress, anxiety and fear and serves as symbolic language to establish communication. The facilitator gives as few instructions as possible, so that the child can express his or her emotions freely by means of the creative process. Emotions that are hidden in the subconscious, will be freed by means of doing the exercises in this safe environment.

A relationship based on trust, will develop session by session to empower the child to find him/herself and also to give hope in every unhappy situation.

Pablo Picasso said: “Everything cannot be said, but everything can be painted.”

Originally published in My Child and I, Autumn 2019


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