It can be difficult for children to know how to express uncomfortable feelings such as loss, sadness, frustration or anger, jealousy or guilt.
Difficult feelings like these can distress children affected by cancers, whether it is themselves or a loved one, during and for a long time after medical treatment has come to an end.
These feelings may stop the child from concentrating and understanding their school work. They may feel bad about themselves and have low self-esteem. Not knowing how to cope with their feelings may cause problems in their relationships with others.
Sometimes it is easier to show someone how they feel rather than talk about it, especially when the child is having difficulty understanding exactly what it is, they are feeling, so cannot verbalise it.
Art Therapy (sometimes called Art Psychotherapy) gives children a safe place to express themselves using art, pictures and stories. This can improve the child’s self-esteem, benefitting them emotionally and intellectually.
Many people describe art and craft activities as therapeutic, and they can be. Art Therapy or Psychotherapy is different, however, because of the “Therapy” part. Art Therapists must be trained to the level required by the Health and Care Professions Council to ensure the Therapist is able to deal appropriately with distressing and difficult feelings, as well as issues such as confidentiality and therapeutic boundaries.
Taking part in Art Therapy isn’t about being ‘good’ at Art or producing neat and tidy work to take home and put on the wall. Art Therapy allows a person to use the art materials to express emotions, however difficult or ‘messy’ they might be. All in a safe space with one of our qualified therapists who can work with them to help understand those feelings.
When does Art Therapy take place?
Art Therapy sessions usually take place once a week, at a consistent time and place.
Each session will last 40-60 minutes depending on the child. Initially a child will have six sessions, though this can be extended.
The content of a session is confidential, unless there is a safeguarding issue. The Art Therapist can still give general feedback to those involved in the child’s care.
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