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How Art Therapy Can Benefit a Child’s Development

young female child engages in art therapy with adult female therapist

Like play therapy, art therapy is  beneficial to a child’s development and a very good way to have children participate in the therapy process while creating a setting that is more comfortable and familiar to them. When people first hear about art therapy, one of the questions they ask is “how is that different from art education or art classes?”. There can be some confusion about the differences between art education and art therapy. That is understandable considering that there are similarities in both fields. However, the goals and objectives of art therapy and art education is what sets them apart from each other.

Art therapy is a visual way to express ideas, thoughts, and feelings. The art can be a form of self-expression, a visible record of achievement and/or a tool that can be used for strengthening self-awareness and self-esteem. The similarities of art therapy and art education are that both fields help individuals create art using the same type of materials. Also, whether it is a therapy session or a class, creating the art can become a personal or emotional process. However, in a class, the artwork and the technical skills gained from developing the art is the main focus. In a therapy session, the artwork and the emotions that goes along with the art-making process is addressed. Children are at the beginning stages of self-expression when they are young.  That is why art can be a useful tool in fostering this process.  It can also be used as a way to communicate with your child and build coping skills for your child as they get older. Through art, different developmental aspects can be addresses as well. Some physical goals in an art session would be to develop fine and gross motor skills along with hand-eye coordination. Social and cognitive goals are also something that can be addressed through creativity. The  development of simple problem-solving skills, like how to make different colors and when to use different types of brushes and markers along with sharing and group interactions are some concepts that can be focused on in therapy. By children creating art, they can express or represent experiences that they cannot verbalize otherwise. This aids in their emotional development and can also give them a sense of accomplishment and increase their self-esteem. Art therapy can really benefit children’s overall development because it focuses on your ability and expression of ideas, thoughts and feelings through the art process. It is about visually expressing how you feel and your ability to communicate through your artwork. To learn more about play therapy and other counseling services, feel free to contact us.