Art therapy for children: Using creativity to help kids cope

Art therapy is a great way to get kids talking. 

Once they’re playing or making art, they become more comfortable, and they will often start to naturally talk about things, which can help us segue into the issue that brought them into therapy to start with. 

But even if they aren’t talking, art presents an opportunity to express themselves without words. Sometimes the art can give us insight into what the child is thinking and feeling without them having to say anything at all.

It’s also fun, and children naturally take to play. And playing is an important part of how children understand and make sense of their world and where they fit in their world. Artmaking gives them a sense of meaning, a sense of place in the world, a sense of empowerment.

In our society, children are very disempowered, plus the kids who need art therapy most are often dealing with issues that are out of their control. Artmaking gives them a sense of control.

It’s always a joy to work with children in art therapy because they’re so receptive. They’re already free and open-minded — they don’t have as many defences and criticisms yet compared to adults. We all have a creative instinct in us as humans. For children, it’s easy to access. For adults, you have to work harder.

Kids get it. We don’t have to explain to them why being creative is good or why we should have fun.

Once we’re making art with them, we use their creative abilities and instincts to help them cope. Improving their coping skills also improves their self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-esteem.