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How Art Therapy Can Benefit a Child’s Development

close up of art supplies as therapist explains how art therapy can benefit a child's development

Not only are adults affected by mental illness, but millions of children each year also deal with symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other mental health disorders. Consider the following statistics:

  • According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 17.1 million American children ages 3-17 have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder in 2020.
  • Approximately 1 in 6 children aged 2–8 years had a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder.
  • The CDC reports that one out of 5 kids between the age of 3 and 17 experience a mental health condition in any given year.
  • About half (50%) of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and three-quarters (75%) by age 24.

There is a growing need for mental health services for children, and Connections Wellness Group is ready to meet that need. We offer specialized therapy, including an art therapy program, at multiple locations around the Dallas/Forth Worth, Texas metropolitan area. Call 940.360.4245 to learn more.

How Does an Art Therapy Program for Children Benefit Them?

Like play therapy, art therapy is beneficial to a child’s development and an excellent way to have children participate in the therapy process while creating a more comfortable and familiar setting. Some of the benefits of art therapy include the following:

  • Encourages children to express themselves and their feelings through art
  • Helps them learn how to manage stress and difficult emotions
  • Increases self-esteem and confidence in their own creativity
  • Provides an opportunity for children to make decisions on their own, increasing autonomy and independence

Through art therapy and other forms of play therapy, children are met at their current cognitive and emotional development level and empowered to express their thoughts and feelings. This allows trained specialists to help them develop skills and coping mechanisms for expressing those thoughts and feelings, ultimately improving mental health and well-being.

What Is the Difference Between an Art Therapy Program and an Art Education Program?

When people first hear about art therapy, many ask, “How is that different from art education or art classes?”

There can be some confusion about art therapy and art education programs. That is understandable, considering that there are similarities in both fields. However, the goals and objectives of art therapy and art education are what sets them apart from each other.

Art therapy is a visual way to express ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Art can be a form of self-expression, a visual record of achievement, and a tool to strengthen self-awareness and self-esteem. The similarities between art therapy and art education are that both fields help individuals create art using the same type of materials. Also, whether it is an art therapy session or an art education class, creating art can become a personal or emotional process.

  • In an art education program, the artwork and the technical skills gained from developing the art are the main focus.
  • In an art therapy program, the thoughts and emotions that accompany the art-making process are the focus.

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 to communicate with your child and build coping skills for them as they age. Through art, different developmental aspects can be addressed as well.

Physical and Psychosocial Benefits of Art Therapy for Mental Health

Art therapy is designed to stimulate both physical and psychosocial aspects of a child’s development and allow the therapist to assess and then focus on problematic areas.

  • Physical goals in an art therapy session would be developing fine and gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
  • Social and cognitive goals can also 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.
  • Children who create art can express or represent experiences they cannot verbalize otherwise. This aids in their emotional development, gives them a sense of accomplishment, and increases their self-esteem.

Art therapy can benefit children’s overall development because it focuses on their ability and expression of ideas, thoughts, and feelings through art. It is about visually expressing feelings and the ability to communicate through art.

Contact Connections Wellness Group Today

To learn more about play therapy and other counseling services, feel free to contact us at 940.360.4245 or reach out online. We are ready to help you or your child by offering mental health services throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Call today to get started!