Working With Schools
Child Art Therapy: How It Works It takes more than coloring for reparation to happen.
In “Child’s Play: How Play Therapy Works,”
Casado-Frankel observes that parents often ask about the effectiveness of play therapy as a form of treatment and say, “But it’s just play!” Art therapy often attracts the same question and a similar response—“But it’s just arts and crafts!” Like play therapy is not just “play,” art therapy is not just “arts and crafts” or even its first cousin, the ubiquitous coloring book. And also like play, art created within the context of a therapeutic relationship is not only intended to help young clients engage in self-exploration, it also involves purposeful meaning-making through specific art making.
Child art therapy is often confused with play therapy and for many good reasons.
Play therapists introduce various art-based activities in their work with children when appropriate; similarly, art therapists who work with children include play activities [toys, puppets, props and games] to supplement art therapy and stimulate children’s creative expression. Art making within the context of therapy is, however, a slightly different experience from play because it encourages the creation of a tangible product in most cases. Art therapists are also in the business of helping children visually express and record experiences, perceptions, feelings and imagination; they capitalize on their vast knowledge of art media and arts-based approaches to enhance young clients’ ability to communicate through creative expression. Here is a brief overview of how and why art therapy works:
By its simplest definition, art expression is a form of non-verbal communication. For children who may not be able to articulate thoughts, sensations, emotions or perceptions, it is one way to convey what may be difficult to express with words. For those who have experienced abuse, it is one way to “tell without talking” when they are unable or afraid to speak about specific events or feelings. It is also a sensory-based approach that allows the children to experience themselves and communicate on multiple levels—visual, tactile, kinesthetic and more.
Growth and Development
Art expressions, particularly drawings, provide useful information on development in children, especially young clients who are 10 years or younger. For example, differences in artistic development can help us understand something about a child’s emotional experiences, cognition and sensory integration—but only up to a point, because most of what has been widely published has been derived from largely Western cultures. Despite this challenge, the currently accepted stages of artistic development, especially with younger children, are still generally helpful and add valuable information not always apparent through talk therapy alone.
Taken from Psychology Today
© 2016 Cathy Malchiodi, PhD
School management have reported perceived improvements in attainment, attendance and behaviour of young people who have accessed school-based counselling services (Pybis et al., 2012). Emotional, behavioural, social and school wellbeing also predict higher levels of academic achievement and engagement in school (Gutman & Vorhaus, 2012)
Secondary school students have reported that attending school-based counselling services had positively impacted on their studying and learning (Rupani et al., 2013)