Art therapy with children, youth and families

A family can be like a microcosm in that it organises itself according to manifold apparent or unconscious values, rules and dynamics. While many cultures regard certain family constellations as desirable or preferable, there can be many ways in which close relationships are formed and maintained. Some children are raised by one parent, while others have two mothers or fathers. Some people decide to foster or to adopt children. Sometimes two families merge together, whilst other families may decide to separate. It's often helpful to consider the situation within the larger context of the family, especially when working with younger children. Therefore, it's common to include parents through regular meetings or to work with the whole family as well as through dyadic parent-child sessions (sessions that focus specifically on the relationship between caregiver and child).

If your family recently moved to another country or if your family members come from different cultural backgrounds (such as with intercultural couples or cross-cultural adoption), this can mean added stress in regards to communication issues, values, or feelings of disconnection and loss. Any kind of change can be perceived as difficult and can provoke anxiety, uncertainty or anger. If children or young people struggle to cope with a recent transition, with difficulties at school or with other mental health issues, therapy or counselling can offer support in a safe and reflective space.

Using Art in Therapy

Therapy may help a child or adolescent gain agency and function better at home or at school. It can include different methods, such as playing, talking or making art. Art therapy and creativity, in particular, can provide an easier and more accessible way for expression and communication than just using words. Within this context, art can also function as a medium to address emotional issues. The chance to express oneself in an open and supportive environment can enhance well-being and positively impact educational, social and psychological development.

Due to their focus, art therapy sessions differ from art lessons or creative activities, although they can also be enjoyable. Previous experience or artistic talents are not necessary. Art therapy sessions work best in person, however, they can also be facilitated online.

If you want to learn more about creative methods and art therapy in different countries, check out my creating links podcast.