For those of us who practice art-making, we know that the act of creation is therapeutic in and of itself. Artists know firsthand how it can lower stress, soothe, inspire, and give a sense of purpose. It’s a powerful remedy for emotional injury, helping us release locked-up emotions. Art-making also increases confidence, concentration, empathy, and positive feelings—all of which transfer to other areas of life.
Creativity integrates both intuition and logic. The right brain works with images, instinct, imagination and emotions, and the left brain specializes in analytical thought, logic, language and words. Art opens up the flow between thought and feeling, giving us new ways of seeing problems and potential solutions.
Creativity is an especially useful tool for children who aren’t able to articulate what’s going on inside of them. Emotions that are too deep for words often find a way to surface in their artwork and conversations with adults become more meaningful and helpful. Ask open ended-questions such as, “I see that you used a lot of red in this picture. Can you tell me about that?” or just, “This part of your picture really caught my eye. What’s it all about?”
By using art to help children articulate what they are thinking or feeling, they get to skip trying to find the right language altogether and use visuals – their language of choice – to communicate. And when communication is easier, you will find the conversations to be richer and deeper than if you had just asked, “How are you feeling today.” If you ask them to draw it, they have the opportunity to express the inexpressible and then explain it.
Take time to be creative with a child this week—especially if they are going through something hard. It will be beneficial for them and can deepen your relationship in a way that you might not have expected.
Steffanie Lorig is the founder, Brand & Publishing Director of Art with Heart, a nonprofit organization that creates therapeutic healing books for children in crisis.