Art Therapy and Play Therapy Explained

"Art is a way of truly knowing what we actually believe." Pat Allen, Art Therapist

Art Therapy

Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that incorporates the process of art making as a means of shared communication in the therapy process. Art therapy is about bringing what's in the unconscious to the surface. Unlike “talk therapy”, art therapy is a sensory-based experience (tactile, olfactory, auditory and visual-spatial). Techniques used in art therapy can include drawing, painting, coloring, mask making, sculpting, or collage.I also do stikbot animation on an iPad with older or more resistant clients. As clients create art, we ofte analyze what they have made and how it makes them feel. Through exploring their art, the art therapist can look for themes and conflicts that may be affecting the client's thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. This sensory experience has a positive impact on the brain, neuroplasticity and the brain's ability to change, adapt or heal. Art making is for all ages and serves as an excellent tool for coping, self-discovery, self-regulation, healing and adapting to change. 

Play Therapy

Play therapy is an evidence-based, therapeutic model founded on a number of psychological theories. Play is a child’s language. It expands self-knowledge, self-expression, social skills, empathy, self-actualization and self-efficacy. Play therapy for children includes puppets, storytelling, dolls, dress-up, games, lots of pretending and exploring gender roles with play in the kids' kitchen and workshop. Play therapy helps the client negotiate life’s events and challenges in manageable, age and developmentally appropriate portions. Play therapy also stimulates creative thinking and problem-solving skills, helps regulate emotions and increases self-esteem and self-confidence. Play therapy is like writing a book report—in session I’m reporting on the plot, including the feelings expressed, and in my head I’m teasing out the themes and metaphors in your child’s play sessions. This helps me determine progress and skills, and then translate that to parents. For teens this happens while using sand tray, where imagery and metaphor becomes concrete. Sand tray has the potential to be very rich and informative.

"Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child's soul." Friedrich Froebel