Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art as a way of expressing and communicating difficult, confusing or distressing feelings.
“Play Therapy is a way of helping children express their feelings and deal with their emotional problems, using play as the main communication tool” – British Association of Play Therapists
Art therapy encourages children and young people to better understand thoughts, feelings and behaviours. By creating images and objects, children and young people can begin to see the thoughts and feelings they have inside and then be supported by the art therapist to better understand themselves and find solutions.
For some children and young people using art to express feelings can feel easier and less threatening then traditional talking therapies especially where using words may be difficult. Objects and images made can also be helpful to see the progress made.
Some children and young people find it difficult to talk about the abuse they have suffered.
Play Therapy helps children and young people to understand their feelings and make sense of what has happened through play. Play Therapists provide a range of resources including art and craft materials, sand tray, small figures and animals, puppets, dressing up props, musical instruments, books, with which children and young people can express themselves and communicate their worries and feelings.
Some children and young people find recreating events that are troubling them through play, helpful in order to make sense of what has happened. The Play Therapist aims to build trust with the child or young person, to raise self-esteem, build confidence and reduce anxiety.
Play Therapy sessions may be non-directive – where the child or young person leads the play or can be more directive where the Play Therapists provides resources for the child to focus on their worries in order to think about what has happened e.g. ask the child to create a picture about how they are feeling in order to talk about this.
Sometimes it is helpful for parents/carer to attend Play Therapy sessions to support their child.