Children and Art Therapy

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There are many fields of study that focus on children and their needs whether it may be mental, social or physical, one of these fields of study is child psychology. Child psychology is a form of study that allows understanding the developmental stages of children and what should be expected of them during their different stages. But art therapy permits us to understand children at a different level, a more intimate level, allowing us to view more in-depth the mind of a child. By understanding the developmental and behavioral stages of children therapists can diagnose a troubled child. However they can only help to a certain point. Children have difficulty expressing themselves through words and art therapy allows them to express their internal feelings more easily, which is done with the help of a picture. There are always questions that arise when it comes to understanding humans in general, but the interest in understanding the developmental stages of humans from birth to death has been a focus of psychology. Researchers have established a system that names the traits, skills and levels of development in children such as their sight, comprehension, and their ability to speak. The developmental stages in children are broken up into the children's months (baby's months until first year), toddler years (the first four to five years), and childhood (years until child reaches ten years of age). (Medical Library Search). Child psychologists have been able to track the development and the process that children undergo through out their childhood years, but each individual child develops differently. There are children that speak, walk faster or slower than others but there are also times when many children are believed to develop later than the norm, when in reality the children may have problems or disorders. Through the advancement in developmental psychology many of the common disorders in children such as autism, depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity have been found along with many others. But just because developmental psychology has been able to diagnose disorders in children it doesn't mean that it can also help cure it, it's important "that the scientific rigor that accompanies research into heart disease and cancer be applied to refining the diagnoses and treatment of psychiatric illness in children", (Couric, 9).

During the early 20th century there were many psychiatrists that became interested in many of the art work done by patients. They believed that such art work had a link to a patient's illness. Art educators during the same time discovered that the free art expression of children represented emotional and symbolic communication. It wasn't until after the 1930's that art therapy evolved and is now used as a treatment for many children and adults. Treatment is given in many different facilities, the most common being hospitals or institutions. The theory behind art therapy is that through the expression and creativity that is involved in making art, a healing process allows troubles to be released. Children art therapy uses drawing, painting and even sculpting as well as other different mediums to asses a child's psychological need. (Health Care Services). By looking at a picture many things can be said, which is why art therapy is believed to be the best way in helping children that have troubles. In order to help a child one must first understand the child's psyche, which is more intimate and personal and can't be achieved through any other method, besides the art created by the child's subconscious and unconsciousness. Art therapy has been widely accepted as an exceptional treatment for children that have communication troubles or are socially impaired. Besides relieving emotions, art therapy also allows children to feel a sense of personal fulfillment, which creates in them feelings of success and self-worth after the...
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