Creative Child

Three Creative Art Therapy Activities for Emotional Health

by Rebecca Eanes

Imagine a child just lost a beloved pet. He draws a picture of that pet on a cloud with hearts all around it. He’s just used art and his creativity to process and express his emotions.

Creativity is important for emotional well being. Benefits include reducing stress and anxiety, sharpening critical thinking and problem-solving skills, increasing self-awareness, and allowing self-expression. Studies show that engaging in creative activities contributes to positive emotions, psychological well being, and feelings of flourishing in life. Creative activities help focus the mind, and their calming effects are comparable to meditation. In this way, creative endeavors are a kind of natural antidepressant.

Allowing children the freedom to express themselves creatively without judgement nurtures their emotional health as it allows them to explore their personal feelings and create something from that experience. These creative experiences help children cope with and process their feelings and can even help children process trauma. Studies have shown that painting and drawing help people express trauma or emotions too difficult to put into words. Therapists have begun to take note of this, thus the rise in recent years of the number of practitioners offering Art Therapy.

Art therapy is often used to help young children overcome psychological or emotional challenges. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the myriad of other crises we are facing today, our children are undoubtedly feeling some level of fear and/or anxiety. Krista Reinhardt-Ruprecht is a registered psychotherapist, and she explains how art therapy works. “When we’re stuck in feeling states, we are in the right hemisphere, low in the brain, and it’s hard to climb out of that. When we use our hands to make art, we trigger our left hemisphere to come back online. Meanwhile, we are making an internal emotion into an external piece of art, which can help us by looking at it as separate from who we are.”

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