Art therapy is a form of expressive psychotherapeutic counselling which utilizes the creative art process to effect healing. Art-making and the creative process enhances the physical mental and emotional well being of children.
Art therapy using simple art materials, the art therapist focuses on creative expression to develop the child’s imagination, communication and socialization skills due to their children are encouraged to engage with different materials, allowing them to gain insight and understand their feelings, at their own pace.
Art making is especially beneficial to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Due to their sensory needs, difficulty with communication and the need for more visual, hands-on learning. Some areas where art therapy can be particularly useful to children on the Autism Spectrum include:
- Communication through art expression
- Imagination and abstract thinking
- Building relationships
- Sensory integration
- Developmental maturation
- Recreation and leisure skills
- Visual/spatial abilities
A child may thrive on the ability to have a free-flow of verbal and nonverbal expressions. A child’s empowerment occurs when they are capable of expressing their troubles, concerns, and challenges in a nonthreatening, non-hostile, and noninvasive therapeutic session. When a child is empowered they are given a torch of emotional freedom. While talk therapy offers an avenue for verbal communication, art therapy is capable of simultaneously looking at verbal and nonverbal spectrums of life.
WHAT EVIDENCE SUPPORTS ART THERAPY?
“Numerous case studies have reported that art therapy benefits patients with both emotional and physical illnesses. Case studies have involved many areas, including burn recovery in adolescents and young children, eating disorders, emotional impairment in young children, reading performance, childhood grief, and sexual abuse in adolescents. Studies of adults using art therapy have included adults or families in bereavement, patients and family members dealing with addictions, and patients who have undergone bone marrow transplants, among others. Some of the potential uses of art therapy to be researched include reducing anxiety levels, improving recovery times, decreasing hospital stays, improving communication and social function, and pain control.” (American Cancer Society, 2012, Online)
Research has shown that art therapy has been used quite successfully to help children learn to effectively communicate, have improved concentration, improved behaviors and develop closer relationships. It has shown to improve moods, promote relaxation, and decrease disruptive behaviors and attitudes. “Randomised controlled trial research shows that art therapy helped improve coping strategies.” (Penny Brohn Cancer Care, 2011, Online)
“When we look at the body of evidence that the arts contribute to our society, it’s absolutely astounding. Music Therapists are breaking down the walls of silence and affliction of autism, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.”
~ Michael Greene, President & CEO of NARAS – 1997 Grammy Awards
“Simply put, music can heal people.”
~ Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
Music therapy is the skillful use of music and musical elements by an accredited music therapist to promote, maintain, and restore mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Music has nonverbal, creative, structural, and emotional qualities. These are used in the therapeutic relationship to facilitate contact, interaction, self-awareness, learning, self-expression, communication, and personal development.
Music can be beneficial for anyone. Although it can be used therapeutically for people who have physical, emotional, social, or cognitive deficits, even those who are healthy can use music to relax, reduce stress, improve mood, or to accompany exercise.
There are no potentially harmful or toxic effects. Music therapists help their patients achieve any number of goals through music, including improvement in communication, academic strengths, attention span, and motor skills. They may also assist with behavioral therapy and pain management.
Some of the many Music Therapy client populations include:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Brain Injury
- Children with Emotional Disorders
- Developmental Delay
- Hearing Impaired
- Pain Management
- Pervasive Developmental Disorders
- Physical Disabilities
- Stress Management and Anxiety
© Canadian Association of Music Therapists