19 Jul
  • By Laura Neill
  • Cause in

Paintbox Power – The healing benefits of Art Therapy

Image: Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Almost everyone, at one stage in their life, has felt a pain or a joy so strong that it was impossible to describe in words.

This is a frustration kids face daily.  Without the vocabulary, emotional maturity or life experience, expressing a painful experience or a negative feeling in words can be a tremendous challenge.

At House to Grow, we recognize that emotional health is critical for kids to progress into successful adults. If you’re a supporter of House to Grow, you’ll have heard a lot from us lately about Colouring Dreams, our eight-week Art Therapy program that supports children from emotionally and/or physically challenging circumstances. In this month’s article, we’ll take a closer look at art therapy, how it benefits children, and find out more about our Colouring Dreams program.

So, what exactly is Art Therapy?

Art Therapy is a type of therapy that applies the visual arts and the creative process within the context of therapy to support and maintain mental health.

Judy Medway, art therapist on House To Grow’s Colouring Dreams project, studied art therapy herself after recognizing the healing benefits of creativity. “Because I have done creative fields most of my life,” she tells House to Grow, “I have noticed that using colour, texture, themes increases spiritual development, intuition and can be used to heal mental, emotional and physical issues.” Art therapy can involve any medium of art and Judy’s sessions can include a range of mediums such as paints, clay or modelling mediums, pencils, decoupage and textiles, as well as dance or movement.

How does Art Therapy help kids?

As we all know, children are creative beings with powerful imaginations and painting, drawing, playing and pretending come much more naturally than speaking. Therefore, it’s no surprise that art therapy has proven successful with kids as an alternative to traditional therapy. In a study published in the journal The Arts in Psychotherapy, researchers found that children who emerged from a 10 week art therapy program had significantly less depression, a reduction in social problems and significantly improved self-esteem.  Art therapy has also been proven to significantly decrease physical pain in children.

How does Colouring Dreams help?

House to Grow’s 8 week program ‘Colouring Dreams’ uses art therapy techniques to connect children to the idea of goals and dreams, as well as to the emotions they experience every day.

“(the program gives) the message that everyone experiences a range of emotions daily and this is okay, that emotions are a natural expression of energy,” says Judy. “I think helping children understand and be aware of their emotional reactions is beneficial in their behavioural development, emotional reactions, improves socialisation, self-esteem and confidence.”

The program also uses art therapy techniques to connect children to the concept of dreams. A developing theme of the program is the drawing of each child’s dreams on their own set of white pyjamas.

“The objective of developing the child’s understanding of what they are passionate about,” says Judy. “(the children) take away with them something that helps them to remember dreams are possibilities that can be realised”.

Pilar, the Managing Director of House to Grow, shares an anecdote of one of the participants of the Colouring Dreams program in Barcelona.

“One morning”, she says, “I received an email from one of the parents telling me that her son had been sleeping with the House to Grow pyjamas all year round. Dani, who had been facing life challenges a year ago, wore the pyjamas until he grew out of them and handed them down to his four-year-old brother, Adrian.”

“Dani told his brother, ’Now you are a superhero and you can get everything you want in life like me.’”

*The next Colouring Dreams program, starting on 27th of July, is now open for enrolments. To register, complete an expression of interest form.

For more information, please email info@housetogrow.org.

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