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Art Therapy for Children

Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that inspires clients to use free self-expression through painting, drawing, or modeling. This method is used as either a remedial activity or an aid to diagnosis. Children may find the idea of therapy and speaking with a counselor scary or intimidating. This can make it hard for them to properly express what they are feeling. Kids have vivid imaginations and are alarmingly creative, and this is where art therapy for children can be affective. In traditional therapy sessions, the client is usually asked a series of questions. What if a child does not feel comfortable talking about a situation, or their vocabulary is somewhat limited? They can use art as a form of expression while a mental health professional can interpret the meaning of their creation.


The Process of Art Therapy for Children

The idea of art therapy for kids is to make them as comfortable as possible while gathering enough information for a diagnosis during a session. It is a cautionary way of discussing emotional or triggering topics. The counselor can initiate conversation based on the art and help the child translate what they have created. Art therapy for children can address and support a number of difficulties such as:

  • death of a family member or friend
  • childhood trauma (physical, emotional, sexual abuse)
  • learning disabilities
  • emotional issues or phobias
  • recognizing and treating mental health disorders
  • understanding and treating physical disabilities
  • behavioral problems


The process typically begins with a mental health professional supplying the child with age-appropriate art supplies. Sometimes they will give the child a prompt, or they will ask them to draw anything that comes to mind. The counselor will focus on repetitive patterns, dark colors, or other distinctive characteristics about what they have created. Art therapists are trained to understand the roles that colors, textures, and different art media can play in the therapy process. They are also able to identify how these tools can help reveal one’s thoughts, feelings, and psychological dispositions. The art therapist will come up with a strategy to address what they have found in the art and discuss this with the child. This will help the counselor develop a diagnosis and create an effective treatment plan.


Efficacy of Art Therapy for Children

The expression of art can be seen as a form of non-verbal communication. Therefore, art makes it easier for children to express what they are not able to say. If a child experiences a traumatic event such as abuse, it is likely that they are afraid to speak about the situation and how it affects them. It is also known as a sensory-based approach which grants the child access to communicate on different levels, particularly by applying their senses. Research states that some sensory components of making art have been shown to improve moods and calm the body and mind.

Another result of art therapy is that it gives the opportunity for a child to enhance what they are attempting to tell a counselor. In the example of trauma, they may have difficulty speaking about the specific details of the event. Drawing those details can alleviate some of the damage and confusion they may feel about what happened. This lets the counselor visualize what triggers the child, and then they can help them recover.

Expressing emotions in the form of art can also give them the confidence they need to speak up about situations in the future. When a child finds the courage to let out their feelings to a therapist, they may begin to earn their trust and open up about other topics. This can eventually lead to enhancing their dialogue towards symptom expression.

Art expression can positively affect function, mood, cognition, and behavior. Children with special needs, such as autism, speech impairments, developmental disabilities, and other mental/behavioral health conditions are known to have positive experiences with art therapy. It allows them to show their strengths and individuality without judgment.

All children have a voice, whether or not they have the developed language skills to express themselves. Art therapy activates a child’s imagination and creativity to guide them in self-exploration of their mental state.



Art Therapy for Children at Makin Wellness

Barbara specializes in art therapy and loves working with kids! She sees children at our Downtown New Kensington office from 12-7 pm. Please contact our office at (412)-532-1249 to schedule with her.



About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assisted treatment and relationship counseling.

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