Art therapy, by definition, is the therapeutic use of art making in improving one’s life. It is in the very act of creating art, reflecting on both the art product and the process itself, that individuals can increase awareness of themselves and others, develop coping skills for symptoms of stress and trauma, enhance cognitive abilities, and enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of making art.
Art therapy offers positive learning experiences to both children and adults in a fun and non-threatening way. Clients are given the opportunity to create art using a wide variety of materials. The structure of the session varies according to the needs of the individual. Groups here at JB meet between 30-45 minutes once a week. Great effort is made to not have a child miss an academic subject in which they need more instructional time. Group size is limited to 5 or less. Children are referred for small group or individual art therapy either by the art therapist, a parent request, or a faculty member. Sometimes, the child him/herself makes a request as well. Some of the therapeutic goals include: improving self-esteem, developing verbal communication skills and expression of feelings, providing support for children with special difficulties at home (divorce, illness, adoption, death/loss, alcoholism, etc.), increasing a child’s ability to follow a set of directions, providing opportunities to try something new and enjoy success, improving social skills, just to name a few of the possibilities.
The classroom art sessions are more “art as therapy” and are designed to encourage the children to try something new and increase tolerance of new materials and textures. Often our children are constricted by what they THINK they can and cannot do. By introducing new materials or processes to them, the children are challenged to increase their creative spirits and self-esteem by opening themselves to new experiences.
Weekly art therapy sessions are also offered for the JB parents Tuesday mornings and one evening session each month. The primary focus of these parent sessions is supportive in nature. Art is created according to each person’s needs and the informal conversations that ensue speak of the networking that happens between people who truly understand one another and the situations that are shared. It is a privilege and a very real blessing to participate in the healing and growth that takes place over time. It is truly sacred time.