There are many fields of study that focus on children and their needs whether it may be mental, social or physical, one of these fields of study is child psychology. Child psychology is a form of study that allows understanding the developmental stages of children and what should be expected of them during their different stages. But art therapy permits us to understand children at a different level, a more intimate level, allowing us to view more in-depth the mind of a child. By understanding the developmental and behavioral stages of children therapists can diagnose a troubled child.
However they can only help to a certain point. Children have difficulty expressing themselves through words and art therapy allows them to express their internal feelings more easily, which is done with the help of a picture. There are always questions that arise when it comes to understanding humans in general, but the interest in understanding the developmental stages of humans from birth to death has been a focus of psychology. Researchers have established a system that names the traits, skills and levels of development in children such as their sight, comprehension, and their ability to speak.Order now
The developmental stages in children are broken up into the children’s months (baby’s months until first year), toddler years (the first four to five years), and childhood (years until child reaches ten years of age). (Medical Library Search). Child psychologists have been able to track the development and the process that children undergo through out their childhood years, but each individual child develops differently. There are children that speak, walk faster or slower than others but there are also times when many children are believed to develop later than the norm, when in reality the children may have problems or disorders.
Through the advancement in developmental psychology many of the common disorders in children such as autism, depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity have been found along with many others. But just because developmental psychology has been able to diagnose disorders in children it doesn’t mean that it can also help cure it, it’s important “that the scientific rigor that accompanies research into heart disease and cancer be applied to refining the diagnoses and treatment of psychiatric illness in children”, (Couric, 9).
During the early 20th century there were many psychiatrists that became interested in many of the art work done by patients. They believed that such art work had a link to a patient’s illness. Art educators during the same time discovered that the free art expression of children represented emotional and symbolic communication. It wasn’t until after the 1930’s that art therapy evolved and is now used as a treatment for many children and adults. Treatment is given in many different facilities, the most common being hospitals or institutions.
The theory behind art therapy is that through the expression and creativity that is involved in making art, a healing process allows troubles to be released. Children art therapy uses drawing, painting and even sculpting as well as other different mediums to asses a child’s psychological need. (Health Care Services). By looking at a picture many things can be said, which is why art therapy is believed to be the best way in helping children that have troubles.
In order to help a child one must first understand the child’s psyche, which is more intimate and personal and can’t be achieved through any other method, besides the art created by the child’s subconscious and unconsciousness. Art therapy has been widely accepted as an exceptional treatment for children that have communication troubles or are socially impaired. Besides relieving emotions, art therapy also allows children to feel a sense of personal fulfillment, which creates in them feelings of success and self-worth after the difficulties they have endured in their short lives. Encyclopedia of Psychology).
A common disorder that is found in children is depression, which affects one to two percent of children from the ages of five to eleven years of age, but even children as young as two can have signs of depression. But diagnosing a child with depression is difficult because there are times when we all feel sad and want to be left alone, but through signs that psychologists have been able to detect allows therapists to evaluate and diagnose a child of depression.
The emotion of depression is a strong and hurtful feeling because there is no feeling of excitement, “emotions are actually the internal architects, conductors, or organizers of our minds” ( Brazelton, 4). Emotions tell us what to do and through art therapy children can express what they are feeling by listening to that emotion such as depression and create art that allows them to express their internal feelings, “Depression. It’s a shade of color. It feels. Doing the art helped”, (Female 16 years old. Time. Couric, 27).
By creating art that has color, movement and shape, an emotion can be viewed, because every edge and hint of color along with the movement of the piece represents its own feeling or idea. For example in a piece done by a little boy of age 10, he draws a figure which is a dark and mean looking dinosaur, this child that suffers from depression shows his emotion of depression by creating a picture of a dinosaur. (Male. What Scares Me Most, Couric, 21).
Even though young children don’t have the range of skill as mature artists there art work can also be sophisticated in its meaning, the art work of a child can have the same feeling expressed by a professional artists, the only thing different is perspective. (Couric, 13). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is another disorder that is common in many children, this disorder affects a child’s ability to learn. To diagnosis a child with ADHD is also difficult because there is no test or scan that can prove that a child suffers from ADHD.
There is an estimated three to five percent of young children that suffer from ADHD and more commonly young boys are more likely than young girls to develop and suffer from this disorder. It is also possible for children to suffer from depression or any other common disorders such as anxiety or behavioral troubles and still have a attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The symptoms of this hyperactivity disorder are key to diagnosing a child, because the symptoms of ADHD are developed in children from their early years, there toddler years such symptoms don’t just develop suddenly in a child.
A child may also develop a problem such as the hyperactivity disorder because of family members who have this problem. The attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a disorder in which a child can outgrow the symptoms of hyperactivity, but such possibility is only true in fifty percent of all cases. But because of the advancement in therapies, art therapy being one of them, there are many treatments that children can undergo to eliminate the symptoms or at least temporarily reduce the symptoms of ADHD.
Through art therapy where children can express their inner most feelings, children that suffer from ADHD have very distinct images than a child that may suffer from depression or anxiety. For example a young male teenager drew his two parents being angry and confused the child called this piece confused, the child explains the meaning of this piece by saying ” This is what my parents think, They don’t know what to do with me,” (Childhood Revealed, 65).
This statement done by a young 13 yr. ld boy is powerful and only through art therapy this child could express his hidden feeling, as well as express a feeling that could have never been released if it wasn’t for the art of creativity. Every disorder has its own troubles and its own affects on young children, but because of new research and new treatments to cure such disorders as ADHD or depression as well as all other common disorders in children, it is now possible to intervene and cure a child. A child can be cured physically through medication, but if there is nothing being done for the child’s mind, then complete cure from a disorder isn’t possible.
In order to achieve complete cure children must first release all feelings with held by creating art whether it may be through paint, sculptor or even through music or dance, but the most important thing is to start curing the mental state of a child’s mind. The mind is a powerful tool that flourishes ideas and also drives emotions, as a child is being cured psychologically, a child begins to feel a feeling of release and as the child’s mind cures the child’s physical state begins to nourish along with the child’s mind.
If researchers continue to explore different treatments, then many common disorders that don’t have a cure could help eliminate the symptoms or affects on young children. The key to achieving the elimination of disorders is by first understanding the disorder and how it works in the mind of child, which can’t be achieved by just knowing the distinct stages children undergo, it can only be achieved through therapists that understand the structure and the function of the mind.