Art therapy offers dedicated time with a trained art psychotherapist. Children can use the sessions to communicate thoughts and feelings that are important to them using art materials.
Many parents, carers and school staff understand that children’s art making and play allows them to communicate things which seem to have importance- this could be a drawing of a significant person, or just enjoying the freedom of ‘making a mess’.
Art therapy assumes that the art making and play of children has a meaning, however the art therapist does not ‘interpret’ pictures made in art therapy. Instead, the art therapist will work to support a child in developing their own meanings in their art and play to express what is important to them.
Art therapy offers children a dedicated time and space to relate to another person through art making and play. Art therapy sessions are child-centred and usually non-directive, meaning that the child will use the art materials and toys in a way and at a pace that best suits them. This less-direct approach to building a relationship and expressing thoughts and feelings makes it a gentle, safe therapy which is ideal for children who are less able or less willing to communicate verbally.
Art therapy sessions are facilitated by a trained, qualified and state-registered art therapist. Art therapy is one of the few forms of psychotherapy which require state registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) in order to maintain high professional standards of service. Art therapists work in a wide variety of settings including mainstream and special schools and within the NHS.
Learn more about art therapy at the British Association of Art Therapists website http://www.baat.org