Creative Arts Therapy for Children

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Pablo Picasso

 What is Creative Arts Therapy?

Creative arts therapies with children provide alternative means of expression for children who have difficulty finding words to express themselves. The creative arts used in the therapy can be art, music, play, drama or dance. Creative Art Therapy is non directive and is client led. This means that the therapist facilitates and encourages whatever activities and materials interest the client. In situations where words are not enough, art therapy provides a non-threatening, non-verbal, indirect means of expression whereby the child can explore difficult feelings and issues in the safe non- judgmental environment provided by the therapist. Children need help regulating their emotions and may struggle with big emotions like anxiety, sadness, frustration and anger. Creative arts therapies allow the child an opportunity to explore and express their emotional world in a safe and supportive environment with a responsive, attuned therapist.

 What children are suitable for the therapy?

Creative arts therapies are particularly effective for children and young people. Children may not have the ability to verbalise personal difficulties so therapy is a non threatening means of allowing the child to express what’s going on in their internal world. Children use play and art in all its forms to engage others, express themselves and develop a greater sense of self awareness. Any child who is having personal, social, emotional or behavioral difficulties can make use of the creative arts therapies. The child may also have suffered a bereavement, trauma, loss or family separation. The therapy allows the child an opportunity to explore their inner world, to become more self-aware and to be able to express themselves in a creative, healthy way. Often the child greatly benefits from engaging with a trusted adult outside the family unit to explore personal difficulties.

 What happens in the therapy?

The child attends individual weekly therapy for a one hour session with a creative arts therapist. The child learns to trust the therapy as a consistent, safe space where they can share their inner world with another person using whatever creative medium they are most comfortable with. Over time, as the relationship develops and the child becomes expressive, the therapy goes some way to identifying and addressing the child’s personal issues and concerns. The therapist liaises with the child’s parents to gain a greater understanding of the child’s needs and to support the child’s therapeutic process. Using creative arts therapy with children can be very effective as children are often more spontaneous, less inhibited and more in touch with their creative selves than many adults.

 Hugh Mc Mahon, Start Right Art Therapist