To define, we may say that Art Therapy is a form of remedial or diagnostic activity aimed at encouraging free expression through art. Art could include – painting, modelling, drawing, music, etc. It is used with people of all ages and to aid psycho-therapeutic interventions.
We at STARLIT often make it a point to inculcate at least some forms of art therapy in our sessions. Depending on the child’s developmental age and specific areas of concern, we incorporate music, play therapy techniques like behavior modeling, pretend play etc. We also incorporate messy play with drawings and paints. People often tend to belittle the use of these in a therapeutic session. Fair is their thinking, for how much can a child with cognitive delays understand the meaning of free expression and meditation using paint!
But there exists compelling evidence proving the effectiveness of art and play therapy on kids. Here, we aim at bringing it to your notice. So fasten your mental seat belts as you read along, there is going to be a paradigm shift soon!
Understand what ART Therapy mainly involves
Art therapists use drawings, doodles, paintings of the child, crafting, music, dance, role plays, collages, sculpting and other mediums to let the child express what the innately feel without speaking up at all! Technically, it is a non-verbal medium of expression. Moreover, art therapists also analyse the child’s doodles and drawings, choice of colors in their paintings, facial expressions of the kid when looking at paper mache masks etc. This helps evaluate what the mental state of the child is. Their thoughts, feelings, expressions and their cognitive makeup becomes apparent.
You need not be a certified ‘Art Therapist’ to use paints or music to let your child explore the world. A therapist who uses Art and Play therapy techniques in their sessions is doing so with a specific goal. (Quick note: Art Therapy and Play Therapy are different though the techniques sometimes overlap).
What goals could it achieve?
The goal could be to enhance the child’s eye-hand coordination, attention and concentration. It could also be to meet their sensory needs or to improve their instruction following ability.
Benefits of using music therapy on kids are many. It provides mental stimulation, increases their motor coordination and improves their sitting capacity and attention.
Using imaginative play in sessions is also beneficial in teaching the child social skills. It also aids in improving their speech and/or social behavior modification. Naturally, it is only used with kids who are old enough to understand the concept of pretend play.
Now, to address the claims of people who say that art provides a medium to meditate, to express what you cannot put in words and that different colors have different effects on ones emotional state – we’d say it’s all true. There exists research to prove that Art Therapy activates specific areas of brains and lowers stress. But for children, it is a safer bet to say that it simply gives them a medium to work on their fine motor and certain specific cognitive skills. Little will the kid be able to understand how mindful it was to play with paints in a therapy session.
We at Starlit can see the good results
Regardless of what we say are the benefits of art therapy on children, the fact remains that it is significantly effective. So, we at STARLIT, take these up mainly during home therapy sessions. We aim to teach the child to play musical instruments, to engage in messy play and have fun with paints. We also teach them drawings and scribbles, to make collages or origami crafts or play imaginative role- plays. The choice of activity depends on the child’s interests.
Rest assured, the therapist who is creating a mess at your house but letting your dear little one dip his hands into the paint bottle is doing so with a specific aim and it is, without a doubt, helping your child.