Children, especially small ones, don’t always have the ability to express what is troubling them. Perhaps they lack the verbal skills to describe their feelings or don’t know exactly what they feel. Or they simply feel unsafe talking about their most deep-rooted emotions.
Whatever the case, art and play therapy can overcome those obstacles because it builds on the natural way children learn and express themselves – by playing and being creative. It provides a safe emotional distance from their problems and can help bring suppressed feelings to the surface. This allows the therapist and the parents to gain understanding into the child’s inner world.
During art and play therapy sessions, a therapist and child work together in a playroom. Every toy and art material in the room is specifically chosen to potentially symbolize different parts of the child’s inner experience. There may be such things as a small sandbox, puppets and dolls, stuffed toys, dress-up clothing, building toys, indoor games, and crayons and markers. All these items encourage the child to explore feelings, issues, and relationships in a relaxed and imaginative setting.
Therapy can be a wonderful opportunity to learn more about ourselves, to compassionately examine the patterns in our lives that leave us feeling stuck or frustrated, and to ultimately strengthen our relationships.
This process of self-exploration often leads to people feeling more confident and connected to themselves and more capable of managing the obstacles in their lives.