How Art Therapy for Children Can Help

art therapy for children

Art therapy for children can provide kids with an easier way to express themselves since children are more naturally artistic and creative. A young child is likely to be more comfortable initially expressing him/herself with some crayons and markers, for example, than he/she is going to be at expressing emotions and feelings through words.

A question and answer type of format can be daunting and intimidating for a child, especially when they have to try and explain themselves with their already limited vocabulary. Because of this, art therapy for children can be a much more viable solution for communication than simply having a conversation and talking about things. This can be especially true when it comes to children and traumatic events.

If a child experiences something tragic, that event usually gets buried in their subconscious where it affects them in the future. These types of things are not easy for kids to talk about, especially when there are deep-rooted emotional issues in play. Through art therapy children can help bring these suppressed emotions to the surface so the art therapist can then focus on healing the child’s issue(s).

Does Art Therapy Work For Children?

Art therapy and children can be combined to help in a variety of ways, including but not limited to the following:

  • Art therapy for mental health problems in children
  • Art therapy and child grief and/or loss. Can help children communicate about the death of a mom, dad, or sibling, for example
  • Art therapy for bereaved children and/or a child suffering from bereavement
  • Art therapy for children with learning disabilities
  • Art therapy can help children with emotional problems
  • Art therapy can aid kids with their cognitive abilities
  • Art therapy can help a child or children with abuse, helping them communicate about physical or sexual abuse
  • Art therapy and children cancer patients…can help a child with cancer
  • Art therapy for treatment of schizophrenia in children

Those are just a few aspects in which art therapy can help children. Art therapy can also aid a child in achieving better self-awareness, relief from stress or anxiety, learning disorders, autism, and other traumatic experiences.

Through art therapy, children receive treatment that is based on their existing strengths, weaknesses, intrests, and concerns. It can help children of all ages and races.

As you can see, there are many ways art therapy can work for children. Some ways may be more fitting than others, and in future posts, I’ll explore a little more deeply how art therapy can help with some of the more specific examples listed above. If you believe your child has serious issues that you’d like to aid with art therapy, I’d contact a certified art therapist near you (sorry, I don’t have the list ready yet, stay tuned as I am working on a national/international directory of art therapists).

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Please let me know how to arts to ventilate emotiones in children.

Dr. Kumaranayake, I’m not sure I understand what you mean…Could you rephrase the question or elaborate a little more?

I have a friend who lost her father recently, and her two younger siblings are dealing with things in very different ways, based on their ages I believe. The 14 yr old is angry, sad, etc. very emotional. I think art therapy would be an excellent outlet for him. The 6 yr old has yet to really become emotional, she doesn’t quite understand. Could this work for her too? Are there any suggestions for an activity I could have them do together that would benefit both? I tend to focus on painting, so any ideas to start with? Thanks!

@Christina: I think art therapy has the potential of being a great outlet for children. If you are really concerned about addressing something as serious as the death of a parent, I might suggest looking into a local art therapist. Otherwise, the creative process alone may be a good release of stress. You might consider doing something more hands-on and “crafty” with the younger one. I might suggest starting off with an art activity the child is comfortable with. Good luck and sorry for their loss

My Name is Troy Branch BFA and I am currently working on a Special Education Degree at Western Governor’s University. I wish to pursue

my graduate studies in the field of Art Therapy.

I am working on a research paper on the effectiveness of art therapy techniques for children with learning disabilities (including ASD), in elementary education. I am especially interested in finding out about art therapy in the integrated (mainstreamed) classroom environment, its implementation and effectiveness. My paper will have an overview of art therapy’s history, present state and future in the context of elementary education.

My intent is to conduct a survey of ten questions via email so that I can use the information gathered for my research paper. The questions will be open ended in nature regarding their experiences and opinions on my topic. Each survey participant will be properly annotated and credited in the paper. I will also be happy to submit the research document upon completion to all who participate.

Thank you for your help with this in advance,


Troy Branch

@Lilly I would suggest taking him to a professional art therapist as they are trained for these types of situations. If this is not an option, then use your best judgement. You know your son better than anyone and I think any art he makes could be beneficial for him. It’s likely that he’s already expressing himself through his colorings and drawings now.

I live with my spacial son (with ASD) who is 8 years old. He started drawing when he was 6 and then I sent him to the local art school when he was 7. But he likes drawing the way he thinks not the way he was taught.It seems that drawing is his expressing way as he difficulties in both socialization and communication. He draws every day.

Currently I am very interested in art therapy and want to learn how art can enhance his language, and to figure out what his thought or thinking from his drawing.

I will be very appreciated for any thought and suggestion via email:



I am currently studyng ar therapy epecially childrn

with spcecial need, emotional difficulties and autism, grief, abuse, hiv aids… I live and teach

in south Afica and deal with children everyday with

special needs and emotional problems… Art is the

best form of children expressing themselves… they

love it and feel free and happy and I think it is their way of releasing pent up emotions…so if you

have a child then encourage them to get involved in any form of art good luck to all parents

Hi, I’m Muhamad Ali from Malaysia. I’m an art lecturer with one of Teacher’s Training Institute and very much interested in the subject.

@Muhamad Thank you for the kind words. Glad to hear you enjoy the site!

Hi. I’m looking for a way to help my child. I broke up with my husband over a year ago, and my 5-year-old son took it very hard. He is extremely emotional, aggressive, disobedient.I’m from a perifiral town in Ukraine and I doubt if we have any professionals in art therapy here. Could you suggest any art therapy activities that can work in my case? Thank you very much!

i certainly agree that art therapy could benefit children especially those who can’t express themselves like children with autism…i want to do further study about art become an art therapist could you recommend any an institution where i can work as an art teacher as well as can do further training to become an art therapist? thanks

I was reading all these comments and am like oh my God! lots of Children out there need help.Am an art therapist working with war affected Children in Uganda which has been in war for 23 years.Its such an experience and you keep learning everyday.For those whose children have been through any sorts of abuse please i would suggest self coloring cartoon books and please when you think you played a role in traumatizing this child,you too become part of it and the art would help both of you.Just have art supplies at reach,work with your child and individually but sometimes these children might not want you around so use the drawings as a bridge between you.

Sou arte terapeuta,moro no Brasil e realmente as crian

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