Art Therapy With Children Research Paper Samples
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Working with an intern for the first time gave me a lot of knowledge and insights about the art therapy session and its process. The observation process in the beginning enabled me to observe not only the actions of interns but also the clients’ reactions and behaviors. Although the process was able to help me establish a general idea about the clients’ personalities, I still found it insufficient for obtaining information about the clients’ background and family history.
Luckily, when it was already time for me to lead the whole art therapy sessions, I felt ready and confident. During my time to lead, the children had the chance to know me and I was also given the time to bond with them and be friend with them. Children were open to establish new relationships with others who came to the club to work. Some of the workers worked as art therapists and social workers. The sessions were a lot easier and fun because of the help and support that the club staff gave to all the interns all the time and especially for art therapist interns like myself.
Before starting my sessions, I have already decided to schedule my art sessions ahead of time to be able to meet all ages and interns without forgetting to celebrate the main holiday occasions. To begin my sessions, I chose to always start with giving and explaining some basic art rules. Some of the art rules in my class include sharing of art materials, no judging of each other’s works, and listening carefully to the directions. Then, I explained the art activity step by step to the children and eventually ended the sessions by answering to the intern’s questions to be able to address their personal feelings and emotions about the process. Each art activity was designed to highlight the different sides of clients’ self and life.
Communication is defined as a two process sharing common understanding between the sender and the receiver. The basic communication model consist of five elements in any typical communication specifically the sender, the receiver, the message, the channel, and feedback. The sender plays an important role in initiating communication with others. Also, the sender must use effective verbal as well as non-verbal techniques in order to communicate effectively along with maintaining eye contact.
According to Encyclopedia of Children's Health, there is so much more to communication than words going out of one person’s mouth to another’s ear. In addition, messages are transferred by the tone and quality of voice, eye contact, physical closeness, visual cues, and overall body language. Experts in child development agree that all babies develop skills for spoken and written language according to a specific developmental schedule regardless of which language the child is exposed to. Although the milestones follow one another in roughly the same sequence, there is significant variability from child to child when the first word is spoken and the first sentence is composed.
Language employs symbols words, gestures, or spoken sounds to represent objects and ideas. Communication of language begins with spoken sounds combined with gestures, relying on two different types of skills. Children first learn to receive communications by listening to and understanding what they hear (supported by accompanying gestures). Then, they start experimenting by expressing themselves through speaking and gesturing. Speech begins as repetitive syllables, followed by words, phrases, and sentences. Later, children starts to learn how to read and write. Many children begin speaking significantly earlier or later than the milestone dates. Thus, it is important for parents to understand the fact that they should avoid attaching too much significance to deviations from the average. However, when a child's deviation from the average milestones of development causes great concern to the parents, a pediatrician or other professional may be contacted for advice.
In the school environment, there are some children who lack communication skills which affect the personality of the child. Some of the characteristics of the child may be shyness, being reserved, or autistic (due to the presence of disorders such as social phobia). Kids with these personalities are suffering from loneliness and may be dying for company. However, they do not do anything about it because of the fear of letting someone in into their lives. These first signs of lack of communication among children are first seen and observed by parents and teachers. The basic signs include lack of friends, uninvolving in any school or family activities, lack speaking and hearing, lonely personality and behavior, prefer activities that require one person, and always seats far from the active group people.
Make a story based on the names of characters’ (Humans and animals names) directive activity. Each child had to take one card from the cards group which had different names of people and animals. Each group with two clients had to come up with a story based on the characters that they have picked. The story should be drawn using materials like the papers, colored pencils, and crayons. During the art activity, clients and children were working as a team without complaining about the directions given for the activity. Also, the children were helping each other in spelling the words that they need for writing the story. The types of the stories vary between humor, horror, and friendships. During the activity, the kids were active and energized. Also, the kids were freely talking and discussing the kind of story that they want to write. Throughout the activity, none of the children showed any signs of disrespect to their partner’s ideas or suggestions.
Alex and Chris
Alex is nine year old girl who is active. On the other hand, Chris is a girl who seven year old and is usually described as shy and inactive. Chris is spending most of her time coloring the color book and rarely playing with others. However, during the activity, Chris was able to reach out and collaborate with Alex about the development of their story which is about the friendship between a dog and a raccoon. The story told us that when the dog walked in the forest to find the raccoon, the dog chose to become friends with the raccoon rather than to eat it. That story showed great values embodied among the children because of their common sense and good conduct when dealing with new situations. One of the values they portrayed in the story they have created was by renouncing violence.
In this activity, the children were able to find a place where they could use their imagination and creativity. In fact, the activity enhanced the children’s teamwork skills by helping each other in spelling words. Specifically, Alex and Chris learned collaborating and coping skills in this teamwork activity. In addition, the activity gave Chris a chance to meet a new girl and reduce her shyness and encourage her to reach out to others. Although the activity was designed for enhancing children's communication skills, I found that this activity also promoted the children’s writing skills.
DEVELOPMENTAL & BEHAVIORAL:
Children development is defined as the normal progression of the changes among humans as they grow up by gaining and extracting knowledge and skills. The development process includes observing and assessing five areas:
Social and emotional
Communication and language
Self-help and adaptive
The principles of child development include differences of rate of development among children, the orderly process of development, and gradual occurrence of development. Some universal characteristics of childhood can be observed. One of the most obvious characteristic is complete dependence on others at birth and during early childhood. The psychological and sociological study of children has yielded a vast amount of information about development. Many studies in the literature described the stages of development and maturational tasks related to age. Those working in childcare and protection must have some knowledge of such developmental milestones, but they cannot all be expected to be experts in all domains of development; rather, information needs to be pooled from across different disciplines and professions. For example, a teacher may well spot that a child’s relationships with others are problematic, but will not be expected to analyze the child’s attachment pattern. However, the teacher will be expected to supply detailed information about the child’s learning style and stage of educational attainment (Daniel, Gilligan, & Wassell, 2010).
On the other hand, child development process and history is reflection of his or her behavior. Behavior refers to overt action to underlying psychological processes such as cognition, emotion, temperament, and motivation; and to bio-behavioral interactions. (Behavioral and Social Sciences Research for the National Institutes of Health, 2010).
Psychologists define behaviors or behaviorism as people’s behaviors, including their actions, emotions and thoughts, which rely on the theory that mental and emotional disorders can be improved through behavior-modifying techniques (What Is Behavioral Psychology?, n.d.).
Children’s act and behavior is a result of their development process. Children’s behavior are first affected by their parents, followed by the school and peers, and finally the society. Parents influence the morals and beliefs of their children which means that children will act similar to their parents regardless of whether they are acceptable or not.
In such situations, parents find it difficult to meet their children’s emotional needs. Consequently, early childhood educators play a key role in influencing positive behavior as well as appropriate emotional development of the children (Onchwari, & Keengwe, 2011).
Both developmental and behavioral are continuing process and each one of them is dependent on the other. As an art therapist, I consider this aspect when I design or set art activity with children to enhance their ability to adopt good conduct and behavior. These activities enable me to observe clients’ behaviors in situations where they are left alone without adults’ supervision.
Testing clients’ autonomy and act in the story what do you do?
Children were asked to listen to a story and then draw their answers using papers, colors pencils, and markers. The story goes “One day, you were lost in the woods and found a house but you do not know who lives there. In front of the house were a car and a bicycle. Upon seeing the house, you became angry and tires. What do you do? Do you take the car, the bicycle, or ask the house resident for help?” Children took their time to think about the correct answer. They were deeply thinking about the situation. The participants used the art materials that they preferred.
She is nine-year-old girl who has a beautiful personality but had some trouble following the rules. She is a person who made her own rules especially if she doesn’t like how things are going. On a lighter note, she collaborates well with the therapist and others. In her drawing, she chose to take the car that is in the front of the house. Her excuse was that her unity lives there. She drew a very small house with one window and half door. The car and bicycle looked the same but with different sizes.
She is a nine year old who is a collaborator and generous girl. Although she loves to volunteer and help others in the club, she turned out to have low self-esteem when it comes to herself. She spent a long time thinking about what she would draw in the paper. When she started drawing, she was quiet and focused on making her answer to that question. She used markers to draw her artwork which showed a small house with no windows. In the right, there was a bicycle and a littlie girl with a small bubble over her head that have some unreadable words. In the left side of the house was a car with two seats. She wrote over the house “you should go up to the house only if you now the people who lives there” Based on the drawing, Keera’s parents gave her advices especially when dealing with strangers.
This activity was able to test the abilities of the children in making decisions without their parents. The answers provided by the children should reflect their development and behaviors. By sharing each other’s answers or drawings, they were able to see how others react in the same situation and compare answers. In the case of Ana, she wanted to make things happen based on how she wanted them to happen. She claimed that her unit is living in the house, thus, she can go to the house and take whatever she wants without feeling guilty or ashamed. She already have her own explanation for talking others staff without their permissions. She could have adapted this from her parents, family members, and peers. She believes that if others can do it and somehow get a way without any consequences, she can also do it. She may think that this act is normal based on the actions of adults or others. Maybe, she saw someone close to her acted the same why which is why she felt confident that she did not do anything wrong. Parents’ act and behavior are what molds their children regardless of the acceptability of the act.
In the second case Keera, her answer was exactly based on the advices that her parents gave her which typically meant “Do not speak to strangers.” Her behavior and act in real life would be based on her parent’s morals and ethics. She trusts her parent’s advices in her acts in life and in the activity. She believes that rules are not made to be broken under any circumstances.
Although both girls are nine years old, each one of them rose and adapted to different environments which have gave major results to their acts and behaviors. Based on the activity, clients who share their answers are more likely to develop a positive behavior.
LIMITATIONS OF ART THERAPY
Like any therapy, there are limitations to the usage of art therapy when it comes to treatment. Although art therapies have been applied to all age groups, most psychiatric and medical disorders, and in a variety of settings, there are still clients who may not benefit from art therapy sessions. First, some individuals, often boys, may be hesitant to engage in an art therapy activity because they believe that they are not artistic or they believe that these activities are only for kids. Therapists in this case should consider clients’ gender and interests when scheduling the activities.
Secondly, clients can be distracted by other factors which can greatly affect their consideration about art making process. Clients can be easily distracted by other club members, staffs, social workers, and parents when they are talking or taking a photos of the art group, or asking some clients to take a phone call, or leave because their parent are going to pick them up.
Finally, a therapist who has not had extensive training in art therapies especially with children maybe fail in interpreting clients’ work and emotions. This is completely true of client artworks and their art expressions. Usually, practitioners are tempted to make their own conclusions about content the content of the art which leads them to miss their clients’ intended meanings. Additionally, therapists without experience may use expressive art therapy techniques routinely rather than thinking about what would be best for their clients.
“Art is the meeting ground of the world inside and the world outside.” Elinor Ulman.
Children today are women and men in the future who should be mentally and physically healthy to support themselves first and then their country. Mental health has interactive relationship with children’s physical health and their ability to succeed in school, or work in the future and in the society. Physical and mental health affect how a child thinks, feel, and act. Kids who completely express their emotions and feelings are likely to be confident, relaxed, and have mentally healthy status. Through art therapy expression, children will be turn out to be individuals who are more social and self-sufficient in the future.
Children who practice art therapy gain empowerment through art making activities which enhance their self-confidence making them more active in the society. They are tomorrow’s leaders who can run the whole world with their knowledge and confidence about themselves. They are the hope for better future in developing the society to be one union through cooperation and communication. Tomorrow’s children are people who can establish relationships with others easily and have the abilities to maintain it with care and support. They have the knowledge and the skills to improve themselves, others, and society.
We are looking at a new era where people are honest with themselves and others, have high self-esteem and self-confidence, gives help and support to all people, transforms people socially and culturally, politically through art therapy expressive.
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