Art therapy activities offer many outstanding benefits with helping clients obtain their treatment goals. For children it can be difficult for them to verbalize their feelings; however, they can illustrate them clearly through their art therapy activities. This assists their therapists to identify deeper issues and help the children work through them. Here a few ideas of art therapy activities that can be utilized when working with both adults and children.
What is Art Therapy?
Art therapy was established on the recognition that self-expression through artistic creation has therapeutic value for individuals who are healing or seeking deeper understanding of themselves and their personalities.
How Art Therapy Helps Clients
Art therapy activities are excellent tool to support clients with a multitude of diagnosis to express themselves in a safe manner. Art is a form of communication. Art Therapy allows clients who may not have the ability to verbally communicate their trauma, emotional state, anxiety, conflicts, hopes, issues, concerns, or fears express their feeling through various art mediums.
Art therapy activities can support adults in with expression of their shame, traumas, fears, buried emotions, frustrations and feeling as well. For instance, when asked to draw a certain scenario, the way a client expresses themselves can provide information about their inner emotional state and past experiences.
A great benefit with art therapy is that no art experience is needed. One does not have to be a talented artist or have any art ability. The goal is for the client to express themselves. Clients who may be reluctant to attempt an art therapy project tend to quickly become comfortable and even enjoy the process of the art therapy activities.
Who Can Benefit From Art Therapy
Anyone can benefit from art therapy. Adult, adolescences, senior citizens and children can all be helped with expressing their feeling and addressing psychological health disorders with art therapy.
Some situations in which art therapy activities might be utilized include:
• Children with learning disabilities
• Mental illness
• Substance abuse and other addictions
• Sexual abuse and assault survivors
• Personal trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder and loss
• Physical, cognitive and neurological problems
• Psychosocial difficulties related to medical illness
• Family and relationship issues
• Eating Disorders
• Personality Disorders
• Adults experiencing severe stress
• Children suffering from behavioral or social problems at school or at home
• People experiencing mental health problems
• Individuals suffering from a brain injury
Key Factors for Therapists to Remember
A client’s art therapy activity belongs to the client solely. The client decides when their project is complete. The therapist should process qualities needed for any licensed counselor including sensitivity, empathy, emotional stability, patience, interpersonal skills, and insight into human behavior along with understanding of artistic media. Before the therapist asks the client to work on any new art therapy exercise the therapist should have used the art materials so they can explain to their client how to use the mediums and what to expect when using these materials. The therapist should also allow the client to describe their work and not interpret the client’s art therapy project for the client.
Art Therapy Activities
Below are some art therapy activity ideas.
• Working through Emotions
Magazines, scissors, glue sticks, white drawing paper.
Ask the clients to browse through the magazines and find pictures and words that represent their current mood. Ask them to make a collage on the paper with the items that portray their present mood.
Process with the client why they choose the pictures and words they did to describe their current mood.
• Relaxation and Stress Relief
Mandala coloring sheets with less intricate designs, colored pencils, soothing music
Allow the clients to choose one mandala coloring sheet that appeals to them. Ask the clients to color the mandalas with colored pencils that represent their past feelings.
Discuss healing, focusing on self and stress reduction. Use this link for links to free mandalas designs.
A brown paper bag, paint, crayons, colored pencils, markers, fabric, etc. Strips of paper with positive affirmations printed on them.
Ask the client to create a self-portrait on the side of a brown paper bag. When the project is dry ask the clients put numerous positive affirmations in their bag that represent them.
Ask the clients to discuss their art therapy projects and the affirmations they choose to fill their bag with.
What Kind Of Education Do I Need To Become An Art Therapist?
According to The American Art Therapy Association (AATA) According to The American Art Therapy Association (AATA), “A master’s degree is necessary for entry-level practice in Art Therapy. The educational standards require graduate level coursework that includes training in the creative process, psychological development, group therapy, art therapy assessment, psychodiagnostics, research methods, and multicultural diversity competence. Students must also complete, at minimum, 100 hours of supervised practicum, and 600 hours of supervised art therapy clinical internship.
In addition, preparatory training in studio art (drawing, painting, clay, etc.) and foundational areas of study in psychology are required in advance of graduate studies. The art therapy graduate curriculum is uniquely guided by the premise that focused art-making constitutes reflective practice and facilitates learning.”
Art Therapy Techniques and Applications 1st Edition, by Susan Buchalter. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 2009.