Art therapy applications with children and adolescents: The work of a therapist in art therapy is similar to the one of a mother with her baby: attend to the physical and emotional needs of the child, understand and respond appropriately to nonverbal messages, and finally, facilitate the learning of new forms of communication that are more elaborate.
Psychotherapy for art is especially suitable for children because it uses a form of communication that is familiar and much more within reach than the spoken language.
In the process of creation and manipulation of an image or art object, children express in both symbolic and literal form their fears and hopes, tell us about what is important, what worries them and excites them.
Art therapy is used in the treatment of children and adolescents in group sessions, individual or jointly with family members.
Outside Spain, art therapy is practiced in a variety of institutions: schools, primary, secondary and special education, hospitals and clinics for children, rehabilitation centers of children, psychiatric centers, etc.
Art therapy groups are particularly suitable for helping children to interact better with their peers (solitary, timid, overly aggressive children).
Through artistic play the art therapist helps balance the forces that exist in the group, gives a voice to those who have lost it, contains excess activity, helps transform the acting out in other more safe and effective forms of expression, and helps children to share rather than compete.
Art therapy family sessions are advisable when problems that affect the child are caused by family dysfunction. In these cases it would not be possible to only help the child individually, since the problem includes the other family members as well.
Individual sessions are appropriate for children who require special attention; children with psychotic disorders, children who suffer from some sort of mental deficiency, or simply children that have lived or are living a traumatic period in their life (illness or death of a family member, conjugal violence, abuse of some sort, divorce, birth of a sibling etc. ).
Individual sessions are also suitable when it comes to characteristics that are likely to cause embarrassment or shame for the child such as: bed wetting, eating disorders, excessive parental dependency, inappropriate sexual conduct, etc.
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Carles Ramos i Portas
Director of Art Therapy at Metàfora
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