To increase awareness of emotions:
- “List as many emotions as you can think of (or “list all the emotions that you feel in a week”) and then assign a color to each emotions.
- Fill in the shape provided to represent how much you feel each emotion.” Provide an outline to color in, such as a human figure, a heart, or a circle.
- Use the completed art piece to discuss with your child what triggers certain emotions. Ask your child if they would like to change the amount of any emotions.
As a way to express emotions in the hear-and-now:
- “Color a picture, without using symbols or words, to show how you are feeling right now. Choose different colors to represent the emotions you are feeling.”
- Provide a pre-printed circle or trace a circle on a paper to provide some sense of containment. This is a great intervention to use when your child is feeling upset and struggling with how to express this. It is also very calming to use with children when they become angry or escalated.
To help link emotions to bodily sensations:
- “List the emotions that you feel most often and then assign a color to each emotion. Take a minute to think about each emotion, imagine the last time you felt it, and think about how you feel that emotion in your body. Color on the outline of the body where you feel each emotion.”
- Often it can be helpful for people to have an increased awareness of how they actually experience emotions in their body, instead of thinking of emotions and thoughts as somehow disconnected from our bodies.
- Children may need to be given examples (e.g., “Some people feel their stomach hurt when they are worried.”)
Where Do I Feel?
The Benefits of Art Therapy
While therapy and psychotherapy in general have many benefits, the concept of art therapy has proven to be successful in various ways that differ from traditional therapy practice. There are various uses for art therapy with regards to healing, but the benefits may surprise you if you’ve never heard of art as a form of therapy.
Who Benefits from Art Therapy?
Art therapy sets itself apart as a means of therapy by utilizing the creative process of art and having a low barrier to entry (anyone can be creative in some form or another). Art therapy can be especially beneficial to children as younger people are usually less capable and less comfortable expressing themselves via words.
While art therapy can benefit children greatly, it can also be very helpful to adults. Really, anyone can benefit from art therapy. Even if you’re using creative arts as a means of expression without the aid of an art therapist, there are still many benefits to be had.
Art Therapy Benefits For The Average Person
By expressing yourself through art, an art therapist can help you see things about yourself that you otherwise may not have comprehended. Art therapists can help you process emotions and feelings that you are struggling with, so you can begin healing. Since art therapists are trained in the arts and, obviously, in therapy, they are capable of guiding you through the process of creative expression. They are also quite capable of providing insight into your creations and helping you understand certain aspects of yourself that maybe you didn’t know existed, whether good or bad.
It is this idea of self-exploration that can often lead a person to some insightful conclusions about themselves. Don’t be surprised if the effects of art therapy lead to a general sense of relief and overall better mental health. Again, it’s therapy, but with a completely different ingredient than most people are used to, art.
It’s important to note that you don’t need an art therapist to reap the benefits of art therapy. If you go into art as therapy and learn about the basic concepts and ideas that it represents, then you can learn a lot about yourself through your own isolated creative expression. It’s something you can do on your own to just relieve stress, discover yourself in new ways, etc. It’s also something you can do with other people. It’s truly a beautiful thing when you’re sharing art in an open, friendly, loving environment with other people that are on the same wave.
Art Therapy Benefits For People With More Serious Disorders
Without going into the details of all the possibilities, let’s just say that art therapy can benefit a wide-spectrum of disorders, diseases, and disabilities.
Art therapy can help improve various mental and pysical symptoms including, but not limited to, reducing pain, anxiety, and tension. It can be beneficial to those who have mental disorders, severe or light emotional abuse, cancer, post traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), people who are bipolar, and a variety of other serious ailments.
Benefits Of Art Therapy – In Conclusion
Art therapy can also help people with their social skills. The benefits of art therapy in these types of situations can help with people that are withdrawn or shy, or who, for some reason or another, have a difficult time functioning within social situations.
Basically, the benefits of art therapy can be quite broad. It can improve lives by helping people improve their mental, emotional, and even physical states. It can raise the quality of life for many people, and it’s worth considering if it can aid you in some way or another.
Again, maybe it’s just the act of executing creative expression on your own or with others, or maybe it’s seeking professional help with a certified art therapist. Either way, the benefits of art therapy make it worth exploring as a catalyst for healing.
- Carolyn Mehlomakulu, LMFT, ATR is a psychotherapist in Austin, Texas who works with children, adolescents, and families. For more information about individual therapy, child counseling, family therapy, and art therapy services, please visit www.therapywithcarolyn.com
- Read about some of these art therapy ideas and activities if you need some help getting started.