Art Therapy for Children

Reflecting Conflict

by Beyza Nur Öztürk

Did you know you can understand your inner self better with your art? The art you did and want to do is a way of gaining insight. It will have something to say to you. That’s to say, the way you dance may define you more than any. How, you wonder? Relatively here, the answer is art therapy for children. 

What is art therapy? It is, in short, a method of expressing one’s inner feelings through art (3). Every field of art is a method of expression. Painting, dance, music, drama are examples of various branches of art used in this therapy. The goal here is not to produce a creative result but to make art for healing.

Art Therapy for Children: Where and When?

Child psychologists and family therapists often use art therapy. For children, putting their feelings into words is not an easy task. It is a very effective method for people under stress as it helps people reach their unconscious emotions. This method is a great way to approach people with behavioral disorders. It is often a part of psychological therapy programs for people with alcohol and substance abuse and patients who have suffered a trauma or severe injury.

The Beginning 

As a result of observations made in ancient times, some things are hard to express verbally but still can be understood through art. There was a way of expressing thoughts and emotions. Symbolic images could reveal the unconscious mind. Thus, people could gain more insight into self. The art therapy;

  • is based on self-expression,
  • helps people resolve conflicts and problems,
  • develops interpersonal skills,
  • reduces stress,
  • manages behavior,
  • increases self-esteem and self-awareness.

One of the many great ways is to use art therapy for child trauma. Many research demonstrated that creating and using art has been validated to cope with traumatic experiences. Moreover, it improves cognitive skills and increases the enjoyment of life (1).

Dynamically Oriented Art Therapy

Art therapy began to form with Dynamically Oriented Art Therapy. It is one of the examples of art therapy. Margaret Naumburg used this technique, believing it helped release unconscious images. It is based on accepting that the basic thoughts and feelings of people come from the unconscious. Some psychoanalytic procedures, dreams, fantasies, daydreams, fears, conflicts, and memories are points of origin for the unconscious. The expressions in pictures rather than words enable to achieve all (2).

This technique requires large sheets of paper. It can be thought of as one of the child art therapy activities.  It allows patients to move their chosen material or paint around the page until it satisfies them. The client may look at the picture after finishing with the drawing. When an image is seen in a doodle drawing or painting, they are asked to color it. The clients are encouraged to talk about the artwork during this process if they want. There are many ways to use this technique, and closing the eyes is one of them. It enables them to be less timid to force a form from free-flowing lines.

art therapy movie recommendation

Nise: the Heart of Madness, based on a story of a psychiatrist who used art as a healing process.

1- About Art Therapy, American Art Therapy Association. (2021). Erişim Tarihi: 22.09.2021, ( )
2- Junge, M. B. (2016). History of art therapy. In D. E. Gussak & M. L. Rosal (Eds.), The Wiley handbook of art therapy (pp. 7–16). Wiley Blackwell.
3 – Stephenson, R. (2006). Promoting self-expression through art therapy. Generations (San Francisco, Calif.). 30. 24-26.


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