Why Art Therapy Benefits Mental Health In Children

Nearly 1 in 12 American children have an impairment related to language and speech – with an average of three in every classroom. According to a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, art therapy improves the ability of children to engage in meaningful behavior, such as language, speech, and intelligibility. Following a directive approach in speech therapy requires structure, depending on the style. For directive style, the speech therapist may raise up an object, name it, and ask the child to repeat. In contrast, the naturalistic method focuses on play. While both methods have proven to be effective, finding ways to fit interactive activities such as art is a rewarding experience.

Art therapy in speech-language is helpful with working on your child’s expressive and receptive language skills. During the younger years, your child may not be able to follow directions as directed but may be able to draw with the crayon as requested. In this manner, your child will focus on the color and gradually learn to follow simple instructions. This is just one of the many benefits art therapy provides for children.

Enhanced social development

Establishing social skills at a young age is vital for regular development. According to the research from HMHB, Children who are comfortable in a social setting are known to work better as adults and experience less pain in social settings. Through expressive art therapy, children can enhance social development and support without the feelings of judgment from parents, peers, and their speech therapist. Not only does this give children the opportunity to appreciate differences, but also learn to accept other perceptions.

Impacts the cognitive development

Learning and art go hand in hand with experience. Whether painting a picture, telling a story, or participating in a dance, children are forced to learn experimental lessons, such as choices and consequences, cause and effect, problem-solving, and how to make decisions on their own. They will also learn how to draw depictions of their loved ones and surroundings, using art as a way to communicate with them.

Expressions of emotional development

Often used as an emotional outlet, expressive art therapy can help children develop a better understanding of their feelings. Whether it is being hurt or angry, happy or excited, children can put these emotions into a drawing when it is not easy to describe in words. This creates an opening for conversations and more opportunities to express their thoughts and feelings.

The Kidmunication Point

Expressive art therapy doesn’t have to be solely focused in a therapy session. Parents can follow activities at home and encourage their children to explore their creative side. This should include craft projects, painting, drawing journals, and even making up a song.

This is a guest post from Jane Wilson who spent over a decade working as a therapist and is now a freelance writer and editor.

Photo Credit

Aaron Burden