Recently, art therapy has started gaining an increasing popularity. This is a form of psychotherapy in which creativity is the main driving force. Through creativity, the child expresses himself, gives freedom to his emotions, feelings, fears.

In contrast to the training sessions, in art therapy, it is not the end result that is important, but the creative process itself.

Types and methods of art therapy for children

There are quite a few individual types and trends in art therapy. Moreover, all the time there is something new. But the main types of treatment with creativity can be attributed:

  1. Isotherapy - treatment with the help of drawing tools, fine art. Materials for such therapy - paper, brushes, paints, at least - pencils, pens, crayons.

2. Sand therapy - classes using a specially organized sandbox. In addition to the sand box itself, small figures, natural materials, etc. are used in the therapy.

3. Bibliotherapy - special work with the text. So, you can read the text, choose and write out the words you remember, make sentences of them, etc..

4. Fairy tale therapy - therapeutic effect with the help of a therapeutic metaphor. Those using fairy tale therapy study ready-made fairy tales, modify them, change their beginning or end, write their own fairy tales. For more details, see the article Fairy tale therapy for a soft solution to children's problems

5. Music therapy - classes by listening to music, creating your own rhythms, playing musical instruments.

6. Fabric therapy - by working with fabrics.

7. Color therapy - consists of bringing together different color combinations and images.

8. Play therapy with dolls - it involves the creation of dolls from various materials, and further interaction with them: playing stories, writing stories, etc..

9. Mandala therapy - Activities with children through the creation of mandalas. You can draw them on paper or sand, create from different materials.

10. Photo therapy - taking photographs and modifying them digitally and with scissors

11. Meta-art - classes with the help of working with metaphorical associative maps.

12. Sculpture therapy - therapy using effects on clay, dough, clay, other plastic materials.

13. Collages - healing therapy creating collages, mix-matching and patch work.

14. Film therapy - therapy with movies and commercials.

15. Dance therapy - treatment with dance.

Target art therapy:

  • Diagnosis of psychological problems in a child.
  • Detection of hidden and repressed feelings, thoughts, emotions.
  • Teaching a child to concentrate on his feelings and sensations..
  • Formation of communication skills.
  • Development of imagination, creativity.
  • Increase child self-esteem.

Art therapy methods:

Here it does not matter at all whether the child is able to draw, sing, dance, compose poetry or fairy tales. The point is, in this case, creativity is spontaneous. The main thing is that through this free creativity the child has the opportunity to express himself, to receive emotional relief and enjoy the process. In the process of art therapy exercises, the left and right hemispheres of the brain work, as if at the same time, as a result of which the child becomes aware and corrects his internal anxiety and fear.

Exercises on art therapy for children:

1. Drawing by hand (fingers, palm, edge of palm): This activity needs gouache or finger paints. Smears are applied randomly, sweepingly or dotted. A special role here is given to the tactile sensations experienced by the child from the contact of fingers with paint. In the process of such a drawing, the child is liberated, since he is allowed to do what is usually forbidden, namely to get dirty, to be sloppy, to play with dirt, to allow yourself to go beyond what is permitted.

Most often, such drawing is accompanied by a strong emotional response, and it can be both positive and negative. This exercise can correct the state of anxiety, depression, fear.

2. Drawing by natural material, grain: As a natural material, you can use coarse or fine sand, dry leaves, as well as various cereals. Children love the tactile sensations they experience from contact with these materials. Apply school glue to the sheet of paper. The child can apply glue in the form of a specific pattern, pattern, and randomly. Then sprinkle sand, grits, dry leaves, pounded between the palms onto a sheet. It all depends on your imagination. Usually, children fill up the entire surface of the paper with loose material, pouring it over and over again. The excess is shaken off the sheet and the image appears only where there was glue. Such classes are excellent in helping self disclosure, helps to fight with anxiety, to adapt in a new team., increase self-esteem.

3. Draw music. Prepare paints, brushes, paper, recording with classical music by Tchaikovsky, Glinka, Mozart in advance. Invite the child to draw the music that he is about to hear. Explain that music can be depicted in any lines and colors as it feels. Exercise contributes to the expression of their feelings and emotions on paper.

4. Exercise "Flower": Objective is to develop imagination, fine motor skills of hands, to relieve emotional tension.

Materials: paper, brushes, paints, pencils, felt-tip pens.

Close your eyes and imagine a beautiful flower. What does he look like? How does that smell? Where is that growing? What surrounds it? Now open your eyes and try to portray everything that is presented. What is your flower mood? Let's invent a story about that.

Notes: it is important to finish the exercise in a positive mood, if the child composed a sad story or his flower has a bad mood, then you can offer to change the picture or story so that the mood becomes good.

5. Doodle Exercise: Objective is to develop imagination, fine motor skills of hands, the ability to understand a partner without words, to relieve emotional stress.

Materials: paper, pencil. Draw any lines you want. And now I will continue your drawing. Do you want to continue drawing more? Let's think about what our scribbles look like? Do we finish missing details?

Notes: There is a peculiar dialogue on paper that can continue until child decides that the drawing is finished. You can try to see the meaning in the scrawl, or you can just drive a pencil over the paper while listening to your body.

6. Mask Exercise: Objective is to develop imagination, spatial thinking, speech, the opportunity to try new roles, to work out disturbing situations.

Materials: cardboard, colored paper, round-tip pens, small details for the decoration of the mask, elastic for mounting the mask, scissors.

Let's imagine that we were invited to a masquerade ball. What mask would you wear? Let's try to make it. And now let's play the story that could happen at the ball with these masks.

Notes: Do not show the child a sample - let him come up with a mask, you can only help with the design. Encourage the child. There is no incorrect or ugly mask, because only the baby knows what it should be. Join the game and play the situation in different ways.

7. Drawing on Glass: To perform this exercise you will need glass. You can use the one that is in the frame for the photo, after processing the edges, so that the child does not get hurt while working. Prepare paints and brushes. Have a child draw on glass. There is no need to give exact instructions on how the picture should be. Let the child try to draw as he wants. Show him how bizarrely mixed colors on glass, blur, flow into each other.

This exercise is useful because it does not allow the child to control the product of his activity, because the paint on the glass cannot be kept - because of the water it spreads, and the drawn figure does not hold the original shape.

Usually this process takes a long time for the child, allowing them to find contact with their unconscious. In continuation of work, you can make an imprint on paper - by attaching a clean sheet to the glass. The picture printed on it can be studied for a long time, with a brush, you can draw fragments and parts to make a plot. Psychologists use this technique to analyze the child’s personality, the process itself is easy enough for parents and children.

8. Clouds: Squeeze the shaving foam onto the work surface and offer the crumbs to touch, beat, draw on it with your finger. Then add a little blue gouache to the froth. And let the baby create their sky and clouds.

9. The Tale of a Hero: What you need to compose a fairy tale? Just something a pen and a blank sheet of paper. Where to begin? In any fairy tale there must be a hero or a heroine.

Then the situation should be developed. Let the hero overcomes obstacles, fights against evil, defeats dragons, finds new friends, falls in love, saves, heals and, in the end gets everything that he aspired.

After writing a fairy tale, you can try to find the similarity of her character with the author of the story and draw a parallel between them..

10. Work with creative trash: Collect around the house everything that has long lost its value for you: old newspapers and magazines, postcards and calendars, paper clips, pins, candy wrappers, dried up markers, etc. Make a general composition of selected trinkets..

11. Creating a magical world: In order to get acquainted with the feelings and feelings of the child, you can offer him the following exercise. Need a sandbox and a set of small figures. Instructions for the task is:

“Imagine that you are a real wizard. Before you - a fantastic country. And you can fill it with whatever you want. Create any natural conditions, populate people, animals or other creatures. Place them as you like. ”.
Usually, children start to create with great joy, immediately immersed in their own world. One can learn a lot about himself from the way the child starts “building”, how he approaches the process. He quickly builds everything using large strokes? Or he hesitates, ponders his decision for a long time, can't decide on a place for a figure in any way? Or maybe rearranging some characters all the time, unable to find a place for them?

When the world is created, and the child will say that he finished, discuss with him a picture. Ask who lives in this magical country, what it is called, what the residents are doing, what is happening to them. If a child voiced some kind of problem with a hero - for example, this tiger is very angry, and he is ill - try to find a solution together. Maybe the tiger just needs a friend? Or should he do what he likes? "Go" for the child, continuing his thoughts. And you will be surprised how effective this exercise can be..

12. Free drawing in a circle: Purpose is establishing communication, unification, harmonization of emotional state.

Materials: A large sheet of paper in the form of a circle, paints, brushes, a container of water.

Instruction: Children are invited to take turns drawing the roads to each other in a circle..

13. Drawing on a raw sheet: Purpose is to relieve stress, achieve tactile stimulation, harmonization of the emotional state, the development of imagination.

Materials: Watercolor, brush, container with water, sponge.

Instruction: Ask the child to wet a sheet of paper with a sponge and put dots on it, draw lines, watch the paint spread.

14. Water fireworks: Purpose is to relieve stress,  achieve tactile stimulation, emotion response, imagination development.

Materials: Watercolor, brush, sink with water.

Instruction: Ask the child to draw on the water, looking at the resulting figures.

Note: To help child in class overcoming phobias, you can read a relevant poem.

15. Crayon Strokes: Purpose is relieving the tension and aggressive tendencies, harmonization of emotional state, physical and emotional stimulation.

Materials: Crayons, Cardboard Sheet.

Instruction: A child  makes strokes on the sheet at different paces (slowly - quickly)

16. Diversity of stones: Purpose is to relieve stress, tactile stimulation, the development of creative imagination.

Materials: Stones, gouache, brush, water tank.

Instruction: Ask the child to color the stones the way they want.

17. Paintings: Purpose is to develop motor skills, tactile stimulation, the development of skills for choosing and “adopting boundaries”, harmonization of the emotional state.

Materials: Boxes of different sizes, paper of different textures, paints, brushes, a container of water.

Instruction: Invite the child to choose any of the boxes, stick the paper, paint it as they want.

18. Face: Purpose is learning of the inner world of the child, studying of the topic of relationships with parents.

Materials: Templates with the image of faces (female, male, child), paints, brushes, shadows, lipstick.

Instruction: The child is asked to color the templates of people. And they are encouraged to comment on their work..

19. Ornament: Purpose is developing motor skills, spatial representations, rhythm feelings, the stabilization of the psycho-emotional state, the ordering of experiences.

Materials: Pictures with ornaments, materials for imitation (paints, crayons, play-doh), paper.

Instruction: Invite the child to consider the proposed patterns, and then portray, on the basis of the impressions received, whatever he wants.

Note: Pay special attention to which of the ornaments the child chooses (black and white, color, mixed).

20. Family: Purpose is to identify the emotional state of the child, feelings and ideas associated with child-parent relationships, study the features of the child's interaction with the world.

Materials: Patterns of figures (female, male, child), paints, brushes, a container of water.

Instruction:The child is asked to paint the patterns of figures. The child is encouraged to comment on their work.

21. Mirror Monster: Purpose is to relieve stress, overcome anxious phobic reactions. On the one hand, the child sees his reflection in the mirror through the painted fear (a metaphor of the fact that the child’s body is filled with fear), on the other hand, there is an opportunity to step back from fear, to maintain control.

Materials: child's full-length mirror, paints, brushes, water container.

Instructions: Ask the child to draw on the mirror what scares him, his fear.

22. Footprints:  Purpose is to improve emotion response, tactile stimulation, stress relief and overcoming the fear of pollution, preparation for transfer to another institution or foster family.

Materials: Gouache, a basin of water, a towel, drawing paper, teddy bear patterns, 5 pictures of a house, a meadow, a reproduction of I.Shishkin’s painting “Morning in a Pine Forest”, roads and a picture of a new house

Instruction: A specialist prepares children for work, tells a fairy tale, holding a toy bear and the first picture of a house in their hands (other images are successively attached to the wall and hung with a cloth):

“Once upon a time there was a little bear. He was kind and very curious. One day he was so enthusiastic about playing for a walk that he ran very far from home. Mom began to call him, but could not find. Then the bear began to leave on the clearing multicolored traces, so that my mother would find him. ”.

After this, the specialist should suggest that the child leave traces of his feet on paper. The specialist accompanies such actions of children by gradually revealing each of the curtained paintings. After this, the ritual of leaving traces is performed again. At the moment when the child approached the last picture of the house, ask him the question: “What is the name of the bear cub in the house?”

Note:  Pictures are a projection of the stages of a child’s life from a child’s home. Life in the family, then the unknown, Shishkin's painting “Morning in a pine forest” - finding a child in the orphanage with other children, the road is the future path to another institution or family, and again the illustration of the house. It should be noted that often the session does not end with the fifth picture. At the time provided, children can take patterns of teddy bears, walk with them from picture to picture, leaving traces, return again to the fifth image. In the event that art therapy activity pursues other psycho-correctional goals, the specialist changes the subject of the paintings, but the principle of working with them leaves the same.

23. Little giraffe: Purpose is the disclosure of resources in a child in the age crisis of 3 years. Training attention and creative thinking.

Materials: Watercolors, tassels, water bottle, stones, paper, toy giraffe and turtle.

Instruction: After reading the fairy tale "Little Giraffe" ask the child to help the giraffe make specks lighter, paint over the pebbles. Praise that the child does everything himself.

Fairy tale "Little giraffe" (N. Suchkov)

There was a little giraffe in the world. And he loved to repeat two phrases: “I myself !! And "I do not want!". The giraffe freaked out and fought. The animals that lived nearby tried to avoid the giraffe. Then one day a big turtle told a giraffe:

- Why are you stubborn and fighting? Do you want everyone to be afraid of you?

The giraffe habitually replied: "I do not want!"

- Let me help you? You are so angry that the spots on your body become so bright that everyone around you is afraid to approach you. Let's make them a little paler?

- Not. I myself!

The giraffe began to breed bright spots of water and paint the stones lying on the road. Looking at this, the big turtle smiled and said:

- You're doing fine! Now you can check your spots yourself. As soon as they become very bright, make them paler. You are doing so well!

24. Figure clay: Purpose is stress relief, tactile stimulation, imagination development.

Materials: Liquid clay, a large sheet of paper (plexiglas).

Instruction: Offer the child to dip his fingers into the clay and draw on the paper.

Note: By adjusting the consistency of the clay, you can work with improving the mechanisms of self-regulation.

25. Drawing on a doll. Purpose is the good knowledge of the inner world of the child, the development of the imagination.

Materials: Gouache, tassels, water tank, doll.

Instruction: Ask the child to color the doll the way he wants..

26. Multi-colored sheets: Purpose is improving self-regulation mechanisms, training the sequence of actions, redemption of hyperactivity.

Materials: Four large sheets of paper, gouache brush, water bottle, scotch, scissors.

Instruction: The child alternately paints sheets of paper (red, yellow, blue, green), then in the same sequence hangs the sheets on the wall, closing one another.

27. Play-Doh for strongman: Purpose is responding to emotions and aggressive tendencies, stress relief.

Materials: Play-doh, cardboard sheet.

Instruction:The child, tearing small pieces of clay, smears them on the sheet, creating a thin layer, if desired, can scrape it off the sheet with the help of a small foot for clay, which requires additional physical and emotional forces.

28. Wonder Cactus:  Purpose is harmonization of the emotional state, sensory stimulation. The technique is aimed at evolving psychological problems in aggressive children. Due to the work with play-doh internal stress is transferred to the material. The resulting cactus is a container of the emotions of a child. The spikes serve as a symbol of the child’s aggressive reactions to the world around it, and the moment flowers are attached to these spines can carry a corrective.

Materials: Therapeutic fairy tale "Wonder Cactus" play-doh, toothpicks, color paper templates of multicolored paper.

Instruction: After listening to a fairy tale, a child sculpts a cactus, pierces it with toothpicks, decorates with flowers.

Note: Older children can make flowers themselves from various materials (paper, play-doh, grains).

Tale "Wonder Cactus" (Suchkova ON)

An angry cactus lived on the silvery sandy expanses. He was so gloomy and prickly that a new invisible barrier formed around him. And anyone who came closer to him. Every time I “gasped” from unpleasant pricks. Therefore, everyone in the circle called him the cactus "Fighting Evil One." Because of all the corners, it was only heard: “You do not go on this road, the Fighting Evil is there” or “The Fierce Evil has fought again!” But I must say that after such words the thorns on the cactus grew even more, and became much sharper than they were. And at that moment, when the thorns became quite huge, and the sun was very hot, it suddenly began to rain. His drops were so big and fresh that all the inhabitants of the sandy expanses began to run in the rain, jump over the puddles and laugh out loud. After some time, the rain ended. The sun peeped out, and the inhabitants of the sandy expanses began to tickle with their rays ... and then one of the participants of such fun noticed that beautiful flowers began to appear on the cactus. Then he went to the Fighting Evil. Oh miracle! The spines disappeared completely. Now on the cactus there were a lot of fragrant flowers, and the angry cactus began to be called Wonder Cactus.

29. Confectioner: Purpose is stress relief, increasing self-esteem, exploring feelings and ideas related to the image of home.

Materials: Candy box, play-doh, sculpted play-doh (if the child’s physical abilities permit), glitter gel.

Instruction: Ask the children to make candy, “populate them in the houses”, decorate with gel with sparkles.

30. Colored primer: Purpose is tactile stimulation, the development of imagination.

Materials: Colored primer tray.

Instruction: Ask your child to become familiar with the material, draw on the primer or build something out of it.

31. Manipulations with natural material: Purpose is tactile stimulation, the development of imagination.

Materials: Diverse natural material.

Instruction: Ask the child to familiarize themselves with the material, create a picture from it, spread it out on the table or on the floor, or use additional art materials (paint, play-doh).

32. The world of sand. Purpose is knowledge of the inner world of the child, tactile stimulation.

Materials: Film, sand, toys for sand therapy.

Instructions: Ask your child to become familiar with the material, draw on the sand or build something out of it, compose a story for toy characters living in the sand world.

33. Collage on the box. Purpose is development of motor skills and spatial representations, skills of choice, expression of feelings and ideas, tactile stimulation.

Materials: Small boxes, magazine pieces, color and white paper, school glue.

Instruction: Have the child stick magazine pieces, colored or white paper onto the boxes.

34. Application to the vessel. Purpose is formation of a sense of security, the development of fine motor skills.

Materials: Container of shampoos or creams, school glue, paints, brushes.

Instruction: Ask the child to choose the container of his choice and paste it into pieces of paper, and to color if desired.

Note: The container can be decorated with play-doh (smearing), use beads, grains.

35. Family: Purpose is the knowledge of the inner world of the child, the study of the topic of relationships with parents.

Materials: Magazine pieces, scissors, round-tip pens, eye marker, lipstick, paints, brushes.

Instruction: Invite the child to choose the magazine pieces they like, do whatever they want with them.

36. Magic wool: This technique will not only increase the amount of sensory information, but also give a feeling of additional protection due to the use of wool as a material, which retains the warmth of the hands after working with it. This is due to the fact that the soft and warm layer of cotton wool seems to serve as clothing for the initially “naked” and “defenseless” characters. Considering the fact that in the course of the work, the child’s inner world is projected onto the composition, one can also count on the positive effect of the composition and material on the inner sense of psychological security and comfort.

Purpose is the expression of emotions, knowledge of the inner world of the child, sensory stimulation, the development of imagination. Compensation of maternal deprivation.

Materials: Wool piece, school glue, patterns (swan, wolf, bear, fox, hare, sun, wood, clouds), gouache, tassels.

Instruction: Stick the wool as the clouds, then paint with the desired color, then the same work with the sun pattern. Next, the child chooses the one animal they like and performs the same actions with cotton and paint. The same work is done with wood. At the end of the session, place all elements on one sheet (table). The child can talk about the individual elements and about his work as a whole..

Note: Pay attention to the presence of clouds in the picture. The choice of an animal, the characteristics of which can help in understanding the inner world of a child are important. In addition, wool can act as a skin, namely a shell, a protective element. The color of the foliage of the tree is also important, since it can indicate at what psychological stage of the life cycle the child is.

37. Toy Manipulations: Purpose is the expression of emotions, knowledge of the inner world of the child, obtaining data of its interaction with the world, the development of imagination.

Materials: Tray with toys.

Instruction: Provide the child with the opportunity to play with the toys provided.

Note: Show performances for children will also be therapeutic. For example, the play "Capricious"

Performance "Grouchy" (Suchkova ON)

A hedgehog and a squirrel appear on the scene..

Belka: Hello hedgehog, how do you live?

Hedgehog: Oh!

Squirrel: Oh? Why are you so sad?

Hedgehog: Bird ... I was waiting for her so, waiting for her ... And she stayed a little bit, laughed and flew away ...

Belka: Oh, oh, oh! What a sad story. Probably she flew because of very important matters. And as soon as she copes with them, she will definitely return to you.

Hedgehog starts to cry.

Belka: And I know a way to get rid of sadness. Need to laugh out loud ha ha ha!

Hedgehog: No, I do not want! (capriciously)

Belka: Then you need to eat a delicious candy ...

Hedgehog: No! I do not want!

Belka: Then you need to go for a walk with other hedgehogs ...

Hedgehog: No! I want nothing!

I don't want to wash my hands,

I don't want to eat.

All day i'll be whining,

Do not listen to anyone!

Belka: Oh, how naughty you are !!!

Hedgehog: why am I screaming?

What do you care?

I want nothing,

I'm tired of everything (crying).

Belka: I get it. You once swallowed grouchiness.

He is angry...

Beech, little one, scary beast!

It is he who is mischievous, and then he is sad!

Hedgehog: Yes ... (crying) I do not know what to do with it.

Squirrel: You need to let him go.

Hedgehog: How to let it go?

Belka: I must say: “I don't want to be grouchy. Grouchiness go out!

Appeals to the audience with a request to repeat these words loudly several times. From behind the screen a blot flies out - a balloon.

Hedgehog: Hooray, he flew away!

Together: Better eat you toffee or sugary sweet,

And grouchiness will go away quickly!