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Art Therapy


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I have used art therapy with children who have lost a parent. I have also used it to help emotionally disturbed children and those who have very disruptive behaviour. It is fantastic and used in the correct way can really help children who are struggling with all sorts of social aspects of school... including conforming to school rules.

Art therapy is using art as a way to relax a child who may be feeling tense or stressed, or who can't find words to tell you how they feel. You have to have had training to use it effectively, but it can be used to help children who struggle academically to cope.. this can be used without training, although you do have to know what you are doing.

The session starts with different media: paints, materials, glue, scissors, paper, card etc set up ready for a child to use. You can also use clay, construction toys, musical instruments, role play and puppets- which are fantastic with selective mutes etc etc.

You then put on some music and let the child explore the media on offer in a free way. While they work, you ask them questions about what they are doing and why, and gradually deepen the conversation so that they can open up to you.

The idea is that the child is engrossed in the activity and so finds it more comfortable to talk about difficult feelings in this more relaxed environment.

I hope this explains what art therapy is, but one shouldn't ever just do it without proper training because if a child opens up completely, you need to know how to deal with what is being said.

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I have all the resources you mention available everyday, free access.

I haven't had 'art therapy training'. I feel a bit uncomfortable with the questioning approach, does this not reduce the relaxation? Especially if the questions require the child to 'justify' what they are doing by having to have a 'planned outcome' ( the what) and a rationalle behind that.

 

I think that practitioners can be aware of expression of emotions whilst observing how children are using media, ie: a child thumping, squeezing hard, even throwing clay compared to a child who smooths it, rolls it gently and appears more absorbed in the clay. I also think we should be careful not to 'interpret' paintings etc without others forms of evidence as this is in itself very subjective.

 

You mention playing music, the type of music may influence what the child thinks about too.

 

Good discussion topic but one I think that requires specialist knowledge if it is used for assessment purposes.

 

Peggy

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Hi

Very interesting subject I do agree with Peggy we have all these art supplies readily available on a daily basis and part of our daily practice is to take part in discussions with the children on what they are doing. I have also found on a personal level that a lot of children will spontaneously open up in all areas of play if this be art, story role play e.t.c. .I feel we also need to ensure we do not over analyze just because Johhny wants to paint a black picture does not always reflect his emotional state. I am sure that Art theraphy is a valuable resource used under the right circumstances and as you say by experienced qualified people for the right reasons.

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interesting reply Peggy, art therapy is not about taking a child and firing questions at them, it is not like that at all. Yes, it does have to be approached sensitively and it also has to be carried out by those who know what they are doing. I have worked with older children mainly using this technique and it works brilliantly in a group. The group choose the music- not me. I disagree that it influences what the child thinks about...?? Quite a bazaar idea, the children will think what they will think- i never try to influence them- hence them choosing the music.

I am a specialist in this area so I do know what I am talking about .. the questions are only used for children who need it, the object of the exercise is to relax. It is a process of unwinding and letting go of emotions that maybe we cant express. I run art therapy as part of a nurture group, it is an opportunity to unwind and talk if the child wants to. It is for anyone who would benefit- you, me, anyone who needs to let go.

My son has aspergers (now 16) and he regularly does art therapy. He doesnt talk very often , but when he does, someone is there to hear him. We all want to be listened to and art therapy provides that opportunity.

I am sorry I did not explain very well that there are two distinctive areas here- those who need to talk but do not know how and need to be given the tools, and those who just need to let off steam and take their stresses and worries out on the media. Observation in this case is interesting and informative as you so rightly say Peggy.:)

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Hi

 

Would I be right in presuming Art Therapy would be on a one to one basis?

 

I think its a fantastic resource if you can have it but obviously not many settings would have the man power to be able to fully operate this facility.

 

My 2 sons are both extremely physical with the concentration of a gnat but give them some arts or crafts to do and they will sit for hours. My youngest son is still at our pre school and we find that this is the best distraction ever in encouraging positive behaviour.

 

I would agree with the others that art/craft items are always available but I am sure there are some children who would like to develop their work further.

 

Art therapy training would be a very valuable resouce but one which our small village pre school would be unable to afford.

 

Any knowledge you could share Suzybell would be most appreciated.

 

Shelley

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Hi all, I asked suzy to post a little more about art therapy. I was very interested in the idea. I like everyone have all those resources out every session but would not use the therapy idea without training. Still very interesting.

 

We have a lovely little girl who has behaviour problems but when she is painting is a different child. We use this time to listen and talk to her because she doesn't sit still for long. She paints her hands when her paper is full. Thats when we don't get the next piece quick enough.

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