RENEW
Nov 3, 2011

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4 Simple Art Therapy Strategies

One of the sessions I attended at the Iowa Art Educator’s of Iowa Conference was on Art Therapy.  Art teachers are always trying to come up with new and exciting ways to engage students and reach all of our students who have unique needs.  Because I knew very little about art therapy in general, this session was important for me to gain some new knowledge and bring back a few quick lessons to use with my students if/when the situation arises.

Really, all art can be thought of as art therapy. When we make art, a part of us is on that paper, and something inside us comes out in the artwork.  I learned the even without knowing it, our “STUFF” (emotional baggage) always needs a way to come out and it always will. It just depends on the outlet in which it’s expressed. This year, we’ve had some extra special behaviors at school and I can’t help but think some of these strategies might work for kiddos who have some “stuff” that needs to come out.

I also learned that in art therapy the artwork can become a legal document, which was interesting to me. Just as a student could describe to a counselor his or her emotions or feelings using words, when these are put into an art form, the actual art self becomes an artifact of that students development and healing.  So very interesting!

Here are few quick and simple art therapy strategies I learned through this season as well as some I’ve used in my classroom to help students use art to express feelings, relationships or just to decompress. I am sure if you talked with you school counselor they also may have some tips they have used to integrate art with counseling to benefit students.

 

4 Simple Art Therapy Strategies

  1. Create an “Art Wall” for a student or students by putting butcher paper on the wall. Students can draw on this paper, glue to the paper, add to the mural at any time. It’s a constant work in progress that can change and evolve during a students “break” or “cool down” time.
  2. Tearing paper- Have students (or adults) tear two objects out of paper that relate to one another. What is the relationship between these objects? What is one word you could use to describe the interaction between these two objects?
  3. Close you eyes and draw a line. Stop. Next, look at that line and make something out of it. What did you see and make out of your line? Why do you think you made this?
  4. Emotions paintings.  Divide paper into 6 or 8 squares by folding.  Have students write an emotion at the bottom of each square. Using watercolor paints, students must paint any type of design they think represents this emotion, using the colors of their choice. Have them describe their favorite to a neighbor.

Hopefully these simple strategies can help you, your staff or your students to express emotions in new ways.

What are other art therapy strategies you’ve tried?

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  • http://www.olivegreenanna.blogspot.com Olive Green Anna

    What a wonderful post.

    Thank you for some wonderful insights. A few of my first graders need to get some of things out in healthy ways and I think this could help.

    Thanks.

    anna

  • callanrg

    This is wonderful! I would love to see some of these in action, especially the art wall. Thank you.

  • artatheart512

    Please be aware that art exercises and “Art Therapy” are very different and it is a misnomer to call them the same. Art therapy is best delivered by licensed professionals who are adept at containing and managing the process of emotional content that arises. An “art therapist” who is trained in both areas has an understanding of what and when to offer specific guidance.
    Teresa Connell
    LPCS-ATR-BC-NCC
    Registered/Board Certified Art Therapist

    • http://www.theartofed.com/ Jessica Balsley

      Teresa,

      Thanks for your expertise. The information I got was from an Art Therapy session at a workshop, but I understand completely it’s much more complex. Perhaps we can do an interview sometime and you can share some ideas to help inform us! Let me know!