Healing Through Art Therapy

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What makes you unique? While it may seem simple, everyone longs for a personal identity: a form of reassurance and security in a physical world. Understanding how to perceive different people, cultures, and ideas are essential for constructing individuality.

A sense of self becomes increasingly important as a child develops in a modern world. Through interacting with an unfamiliar world, children learn how to understand new things with their unique perspective. Unfortunately, many children do not have the necessary resources to foster the search for self or belonging; and as a result, have a disadvantage compared to other children. Children who are unable to value self-identity tend to develop behavioral or mental instabilities as a reaction to feeling insecure. This article reviews some of the current thoughts and applications of art in healing.

Art and Healing
The intricate balance between self and exploration can be alleviated with the use of creative exploration. At its core, art is the emphasis or application of creative skill and imagination for self expression. Some psychologists are finding that art can provide the therapeutic nurturing of children who display negative or aggressive behavioral tendencies. By creating an environment that promotes expression, children are able to process and communicate feelings related to their personal experiences. The purpose of art in healing is the simply express, and not the judge of compare.

There are no mistakes in art. There are no rules. There are only endless possibilities.

Nurturing Self-Discovery Alongside Creative Art
Today, it seems that parents are shaping their children into who they want them to be rather than allowing self-discovery and the search for self. By helping children recognize their individual strengths and personal qualities, we encourage them to discover themselves and the world around them. Art serves as an easy platform for exploration in children.

Many pediatricians recommend having toddlers create art. It might seem strange to us, but toddlers are not focused on creating a finished product or self-conscious about what they’re doing. They are interested in having fun and learning new things. Find out why nurturing self-discovery alongside art is essential!

Trauma and Mental Health Art Therapy: Program Spotlight
Mental health disorders have risen in the United States over the past few years. According to the CDC, a staggering 1 out of 7 U.S. children aged 2 to 8 years had a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder. Mental trauma, generally, can be described as a serious change in the way children learn, behave, or handle their emotions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children with the following characteristics in the United States are more likely to have mental trauma:

  • Boys
  • Children age 6 to 8 years
  • Non-hispanic white children
  • Low-income families (those living at less than 100% of the federal poverty level)
  • Families that spoke English in the home

Thankfully, mental or emotional trauma can be treated or be managed in children. Art, for example, can help children relieve stress or convey suppressed emotions. Read more about how art can therapeutically heal children with trauma here.

Inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe

Helping the Next Generation

With nearly 35.6 million children in PreK – 8th Grade public schools, utilizing art as a therapeutic device has never been more important. By providing creative resources and opportunities, we can promote art as a healing device which reinforces emotional exploration and expression. As parents, educators, and influencers, supporting the next generation is fundamental to creating a successful future.

Georgia O’Keeffe eloquently summarizes creativity by saying,

“I could say things with colors and shapes that I have no words for.”

We tell our children to follow their dreams, to work hard, and never give up until they’re true. But how can they dream when we restrict their imagination to just words or numbers? While it may sometimes be difficult, creativity will always serve as a form of boundless expression.