The most common response I get when I tell people what I do as an art therapist is, “Oh, that sounds like it would be great for kids!”
Naturally, the wonders of art therapy do work miracles with children — particularly those who struggle to express themselves verbally because of age, developmental level, pre-verbal trauma, and others — but they’re far from being the only people who benefit from getting out of their controlled, verbal mind and into their creative, healing one. Adults, teenagers, geriatric populations, soldiers, prison inmates, and a whole host of other groups have been shown to benefit greatly from the power of art therapy.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month with May 7th designated as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. You can imagine how pleased I was to be invited by Allies with Families to participate in their first Allies Unmasked: Eliminating Stigma for Children’s Mental Health community fair. Our mission was to introduce art therapy services to a wide variety of families and mental health professionals from Salt Lake County.
I was so impressed by the number of children, families, and professionals who attended this first-annual event on such a rainy, rainy day. I prepared an art activity designed to help kids illustrate an emotion and used the time to educate their parents about the services we offer and the many benefits of art therapy. The kids really took to it once they realized they had permission to use the fun art supplies we had brought, illustrating joy, love, anger, surprise, worry, and fear.
Getting the word out about art therapy is one of the great responsibilities that art therapists have. I’m so grateful for the many opportunities I have to introduce people of all ages to the benefits of creativity and healing in our lives, whether through presentations, publications, webinars, or mental health fairs such as this.