At Crystal Creek Counseling, the art therapy room is itself organized around the seven elements of art language: space, line, shape, form, color, value, and texture so that the process of finding a starting point for doing art is simplified. There are no "right or wrong" ways for the individual to express creatively and any starting place is acceptable. The therapist is there to assist the client with his or her unique process of conceptualizing ideas, choosing materials, and providing a safe, non-judgmental atmosphere for bringing the inside self to the outside. The therapist can look for themes of reparation, rehabilitation, and transformation as the client-artist makes something new and meaningful that had not existed before. The emphasis is on the process, and not the product; and this is what sets art therapy apart from art instruction.
When children and adolescents produce art in the therapy setting, they have the option to leave their work with the therapist or to take it home. Some may even choose to have their work become a part of the art therapy room displays. Parents and guardians who realize that their child has created an artwork during therapy have an opportunity to reinforce the family relationship goals that are inherent with the child's treatment plan. Refraining from judgement of the work as "good or bad", or "I like it", but rather asking the child "would you like to tell me about your art?" can open the door to improved communication, understanding, and acceptance of the unique and amazing inner person represented in and through your child's expression. Sometimes a child does not want to share his or her work with anyone; it is important that that option is available as well.
"The language of visual art - colors, shapes, lines, and images - speaks to us in ways that words cannot. Art therapy is a modality that uses the nonverbal language of art for personal growth, insight, and transformation and is a means of connecting what is inside us - our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions - with outer realities and life experiences. It is based on the belief that images can help us understand who we are and enhance life through self-expression." Cathy A. Malchoiodi, ATR, LPCC, Art Therapy Sourcebook.
Your child's journey into the art therapy room starts long before he or she walks into the agency doors. Encouraging the freedom to explore can start with the choice of clothing made the morning of therapy - does he or she need to worry about getting messy? It can be affected by a previous reaction to a child's preference or expression that was compared to another's. Or the child may be aware of certain taboos or subjects avoided at home, and wonder if it is okay to explore his or her own thoughts and ideas about the subject in the art therapy room. We want you and your child to know that it is more than okay to get messy, to have his/her own preferences, and to express about any subject at all while in the art therapy room. Please do all that you can to help your child enter the art therapy room from a place of permission to explore and express.
And thank you! Thank you for the privilege we have of assisting your child and serving your family through the variety of modalities we offer at Crystal Creek Counseling.