Art in Therapy

Six-year-old Sam is a bright, energetic boy. His mother brought him in for therapy one year after his father died. He has become more and more oppositional, leaving the family on edge about when he will have his next tantrum. His teachers find that he drifts off in class and can become aggressive with other children. His mother finds it difficult to care for him as well as find her own space to grieve. She feels guilt about not having enough energy to deal with his everyday demands. She found that he was unable to work with a therapist before but he enjoys art. A school social worker talked to her about art therapy.

For those who cannot find the words, Art Therapy may help. Art in therapy can provide some with a safe alternative to express feelings and experiences. Art can become a calming activity which:

  • Releases the tension that can lead to withdrawal and foster talking
  • Communicates feelings and experiences that are not immediately available in talking
  • Allows those without words to talk about themselves through art
  • Can make beginning therapy more enjoyable
  • Is an alternative approach

Annette Vaccaro is a NJ Licensed Professional Art Therapist, Nationally Board Certified (BC) and Registered (ATR) art therapist with the art therapy credentials board. She is a faculty member at Caldwell University, Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis and The Academy of Clinical and Psychoanalysis.