Have you seen anyone who has never put pencil to paper, crayon to coloring page, or play with sand as a child?
Many of us have the vague feeling that art is really good for us. We know it makes us more creative. However, research shows that doing art is not only for creativity but it actually increases the levels of serotonin in the brain which is what is used to help lift depression. Art also helps people learn to like, accept and control their feelings; feelings of anger, fear, jealousy and aggression.
The arts are a powerful tools: whether painting, drawing, moulding, acting in a play, singing a song, performing a dance, or writing a poem, the arts allow children to express themselves and their ideas without having to put them into words.This process allows children to express themselves since children are more naturally artistic and creative. This process can provide much more viable solution for communication than simply having a conversation and talking about things.

Children of all ages, both special needs and otherwise , may not have the language skills to express themselves, but they still have a voice. Arts awaken a child’s imagination and creativity to help him discover who he is and how to engage his senses. They also bring a sense of calm to the body and positively impact the mindset, interpretation of surroundings and emotional state.

So what is Art Therapy?
I define art therapy as the psychological use combination of dance, writing, visual arts, drama, music or other media and the creative process, facilitated by an artist or art therapist, to help foster self expression, create coping skills, and strengthen sense of self. Using the artistic process to help people explore different challenges using them to enhance individual development and growth. and things they’re facing in their lives.

Art therapy 
This type of therapy has also been shown to help children and adults deal with negative situations, disabilities and trauma. Through rehabilitation, education and communication, art therapy helps an individual release and express feelings they may not know how to let go of otherwise.
Additionally, arts positively affect function, mood, cognition and behavior. This is particularly evident in children with special needs, such as those with autism, speech impairments, PTSD, developmental disabilities, ADD/ADHD or other mental and behavioral health conditions. Expression through art is a way to help these kids feel a sense of normalcy without judgment, while allowing them to show their individual personality and bring attention to their strengths.
The problem is that people believe art is all about beautiful pictures Art in early childhood is more than just making beautiful pictures. In fact, art therapy is more often a process of making ugly or messy pictures that depict a feeling or emotional,mental or physical state of a person; not a final product that is all neat and tied together (lovely). Art therapy is about that creative process where the child in the learning environment is working and re working problems via a range of art tools ,materials and equipment.

While too many schools today run under the assumption that art is extraneous, a diversion from traditional academic subjects, art therapists know better. They know that art has the potential to change lives, and, even to save them.art therapy children can help bring these suppressed emotions to the surface so the teacher can then focus on healing the child’s issues.

Art therapy can be used to assist children with a number of issues including:
Art therapy and children can be combined to help in a variety of ways, including but not limited to the following:
Emotional issues like fear of abandonment or phobias
Art therapy can help children with emotional problems
Improve cognitive abilities
Deal with the challenges of serious diseases like cancer
Treating mental disorders such as schizophrenia or depression
Help children understand and deal with physical disabilities
Understand and treat behavioral problems
Art therapy for mental health problems in children

I know a 7 year old child who struggles to work with his hands I mean everything. Even the simplest collage is extremely difficult for him to make, I also observed he find it difficult to write without going out of the lines yet he his not a special child.

Can you serve as your pupils art therapists?

A few years back I received an email from a Dad overseas, who told me that his son was abused and he wanted to do art therapy with him. In order to give him a proper answer I started doing research into art therapy.

I learned some new things. I learned that the training to be an art therapist is intensive. You need to be very well versed in the psychology part of the therapy plus the arts. A trained art therapist knows how to guide their clients properly through the process and to decipher what they are seeing. They know how to combine the modalites of art with the modality of therapy.

As a result, it can be dangerous for teachers  to take on the role of art therapists without proper education. It takes years of training, with lots of supervision and clinical guidance before you can become an art therapist.
Art Therapy painting idea
The self-portrait is a simple art therapy idea that can reveal a lot about a person. The basic idea with this type of art therapy is that the person communicates, through art, how he or she sees him or herself.

Another great way to help children do art that is non messy but, still therapeutic, is to have them make pictures of events they’ve been through and have them dictate to you what to say.

I once taught a little girl who could not stop talking about a robbery she had in her house ,until we sat down and made a book about it. She made pictures and dictated to me what to write. After the book was done, she walked around with it for a week or so and then completely stopped talking about the robbery.

As you can see art can be a very important part of your children’s lives if you can allow it. It may be messy and the messiness may cause you some tension, but just think of the benefits your children will be getting and you may just get over your discomfort with a little mess.

Thanks for reading