Art therapy for children is when a Master-level art therapist uses the child’s unique and personal drawings to better understand the problems the child faces within their hidden subconscious. Used for children, adolescents, and adults–art therapy is used more often with the smaller child as they have much more difficulty in putting their emotions and feelings into words, with artwork used as a form of safe symbolic realism that cannot hurt them.
Also used as a tool for art therapy assessments, the child’s artwork assists the art therapist to better understand what the child cannot, paying special attention to the piece of art and what it represents–the theme, sequence, size, different pressure used to draw it, different types of strokes, and the tiniest details of what the child has put into the picture. Art therapy for children shows the child’s emotions and feelings they cannot talk about, such as anger, resentment, hidden sexual abuse issues, violence in their homes, chaos in their lives, and many other issues the children are not aware of themselves as they have hidden it to avoid the pain and trauma.
Art therapy for children involve three participants with no influence from anyone else–the therapist, the child, and the artwork with the hidden message the child is secretly revealing subconsciously. To use children’s art for the psychotherapeutic purpose of seeing what is uppermost in their minds is actually more genuine and spontaneous in contacting the subconscious, than the traditional talk therapy.
Not all children respond positively to art therapy for children, as some become even more frightened when they see their picture with the fears they have hid so long. Then it is up to the art therapist to keep the child’s issues on an impersonal level, keeping the discussion of the child’s fears and problems within the picture’s metaphor. According to many successful cases, eventually the child will work on some new ideas and concepts that is put in front of them by the art therapist using the art therapy for children program. Over time, they will become comfortable with facing their fears, their new feelings and emotions, and be able to move forward.
Art Therapy for Children faces unique issues when it comes to children with fatal diseases, such as cancer. And it is demonstrated that how the child responds to their illness depends a lot on how their own family talks to them about it, helping them face the fact they have such a disease and what it is about. Unfortunately, the parents of terminally ill children feel that if they do not discuss the disease with the child, the child will not recognize what is going on. In truth, when the child is held in darkness, they will feel more isolated and afraid than if they knew the actual truth.