Art therapy can be used in a variety of settings such as hospitals, schools, veteran centers, jails, community clinics, and much more. Today in our class we discussed art therapy in a school setting. Art therapy can be used in all levels of schooling in many different ways.
The list reasons that art therapy is important in school settings can go on forever, but I am going to discuss a few we talked about. Some children do not have a good home life and therefore use school as an outlet or a safe haven. Other kids have social anxiety and have a hard time making friends. Art therapy has benefits for children who have special needs, it is a good source of communication and emotional regulation. Children are at high risk of bullying. Children also sadly have to go through the loss of friends, parents, and other family at young ages and are expected to bounce back instead of processing it. Depression and suicide rates have gone up in younger ages because of the lack of resources. The drug epidemic has gotten worse and impacted kids and teenagers. Violence and school shootings in America have continuously gotten worse, children have to go to school despite this issue. The main reason we discussed is the stress levels and increase in anxiety in children who go to school. Teachers add unnecessary stress with overloading young kids with tons of homework outside of school as well as giving goal oriented teaching whereas a therapist would give a process oriented teaching. Starting school at a young age is also very hard on children, forcing them to grow up at such a young age. AP courses in high school force kids to learn at a college level while still in high school. The main issue being that there are high stress levels in children and teens yet they do not know where to go or what resources they have available to them.
One future problem we discussed that we might see in children is how COVID-19 has impacted development. When COVID hit, I was a senior in high school, two years later I am now a junior in college and time has flown since, but I am a fully developed adult saying that I am older than 18. But children who experienced COVID and were in kindergarten are now in third grade, but the developmental difference between a kindergartner and a third grader is insane. Issues are going to come up later in life and it is going to be very interesting to see how COVID impacts younger children.
After discussing the reason art therapy is so crucial for school settings, we discussed our roles as the therapist. As a therapist we are supposed to not only do therapy, but we are expected to be the child’s advocate. Children have a lack of control over what gives them stress, so having an advocate will give them a sense of control. If a child is coming to you and discussing certain problems, we can be the first people to recognize the problem and report it. We are mandated reporters, therefore if a child comes to us with an issue that is harming themselves or another person, we are required to report it. We are also expected to be a guardian for the child and to do something different for the kids than a teacher. We are able to relieve their stress and give them an outlet.
We are also required to know how to do group work because most of these kids will come in for a support group and might not be a one on one session. One issue with being a therapist in a school setting is that our sessions, whether group sessions or one on one, need to fit into a school period. In elementary school, periods are about a half hour. This is very limiting to help a child but we have to be trained to do so.
Thank you guys for reading! Till Next time!