What would you say is the most common reason for children
problematic areas in life
ill defined feelings
inability to express
to attend art therapy sessions?
Would you say that all the children who attend have similar
As an art therapist, I don't categorize problems, I listen to the child and work from his/her point of view
It's been my experience that by giving the problem a definition, the creative element of finding a resolution is stumped
We all know that the environment plays an important role in positive and negative learning
problems like bullying or domestic problems?
How are art activities effective in helping children overcome their problems?
The child now has an image of what he/she is feeling
A child works much better with images than words; images are an 'a priori' for a child, words are learned. Words have different meanings etc.
Can art therapy fix a child's problem for good?
This is a naive question and reflects your lack of experience in this field.
Nothing is ever 'fixed'. One set of art therapy sessions may find the resolution needed to put the feelings of an experience in proper context only to open the door to another set that needs exploration.
Is there a general length of time that children attend or does
Each art therapist has his/her way of working with children. I prefer to work on a set of 12 sessions followed by a review, assess the progress made, ask the child to work on the issue and plan another 12 session perhaps a month later.
It's important to recognize that a child needs a break. I prefer for the child to ask as this denotes some trust and confidence in being able to ask an adult for something desired.
it completely vary depending on the circumstances?
What type of activities do the children carry out, and what materials/resources are used?
Again this is determined by the child's sensibilities; i.e. if a child demonstrates strong spatial sensibilities, I would use construction. This can be 'found objects' that the child is attracted to, clay, glue and cardboard.
I use water trays a lot as children like to play in water. It increases spontaneity.
Are there different activities for different types of problems?
Again, this is a naive question. Therapy is not something that's done to someone, it’s a space where re-negotiation takes place. One can come away better understanding what has happened in the emotional field during an experience.
The therapy space is neutral and the therapist works with what the client brings.
What is the most popular material or resource used by the children?
Depends on the child. I always play it by ear.
One child's therapy involved a ball of string.
Is there a specific activity or resource that you feel has the most positive effect on the children or does it vary from each child?
I allow the child to determine this.
Art therapy is not prescriptive and there is not set way to begin a session other than what the client brings to the session.
It could be a delay in the traffic, anxiety caused by being late and the repercussions that may mean to my client.
It's best to keep an open mind, a true heart and being a good listener.
Are the children given freedom in the topic/area they chose to explore or do you offer suggestions?
I begin my sessions with an interview and we look at the problems the child is experiencing.
I keep the list to three as this is manageable.
I then ask the child which one he/she wants to work with.
Do you work with children in groups or individually?
Individually, although sometimes I bring in an 'art club' where we can explore group issues, group creativity and open discussions.
I sometimes offer an individual session if something comes up that would be better explored privately.
Which do you think makes more progress?
Depends on the group and depends on the issues.
Are the children given activities/exercises to do at home?
My children are given one 'job' at a time. The most problematic is the one that needs working on.
For example, a child who runs away, if the agreement is that this stops from this therapy session, then it stops!
The next session we explore all the hard work he/she had to do to make this happen.
I like to feel that the child feels he/she has an active part in this process.
How important is the parents input?
I like to help the child develop a healthy ego before bringing the parents in.
I bring in the parents at the initial interview so that we are all informed as to what is considered 'the problem' by each individual member.
I then recapitulate by repeating what I've understood.
This is followed by the plans I suggest for the therapy.
I work with a contract that covers all that's been discussed, signed and every person has a copy.
This contract forms part of my boundaries.
If a child isn't good at art or doesn't enjoy art activities will this restrict the success of the therapy?
Again a naive question. All children are good at art and usually very expressive.
The 'school experience' in this area is what begins to give a child doubt about his/her capabilities.
This is an area where you can see the confidence in the little hands laying out the designs. It's very beautiful and I am always grateful that a child shares this with me.
Do you show the children at a later date the work that they had done previously?
Together we make a folder/portfolio and all of the child's work is stored in here.
If we use clay, I photograph it and place the photo in the portfolio.
I work with wood a lot, and the sculpture is stored until the child wants to take it home.
The thing with wood is that the child is learning problems solving techniques while enjoying himself/herself.
The hammering helps to get the frustration out of the way.
Why would/wouldn't you do this?
The work is always available.
I like an open approach to whatever we do together.
It's part of changing the experience of being with an adult/mother/parents etc.
Therapy is about effective communication.
Art Therapy for Personal Development:
Please feel free to email me other questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01305 871175.