Art Therapy for children experiencing family problems and separation/divorce

Published on May 2, 2016

Art Therapy for children experiencing family problems and divorce

Family difficulties like conflict or divorce can be hard for children to mange a they may not be able to communcate verbally about their feelings. This can result in unresolved difficulties that may result in acting out behaviour such as anger or insecurity and separtion anxiety. Studies have shown that attaachment difficultied and early relationship trrauma can affect a child's development and their ability to form bonds with others. This can thus impact their academic work as stress affects the executive functioning and pre frontal lobe areas of the brain responsible for cognitive finctioning.

At ATIC our experienced creative arts therapy approach helps children to mange their emotion, thus improving concentration and cognition. Creative strategies can be a natural way to help them to communicate and express their emotions. Developing abstract thinking through expressive arts therapy techniques, this can help them bridge the communication gap and develop their emotional intelligence. Studies show that a child emotional wellness and ability to socialize with confidence can be an indicator of academic success.

A child who is able to mange challenges, develop resilience and empathy is better able to cope with life challenges and transitions. Every child is different so with the art therapy sessions there is an emphasis on strength based approaches that increase a child's protective factors and resilience. The art and creative space can help a child who has early relationship trauma to repair attachment systems and bring them out of a withdrawn self-contained place to being able to be empathetic, communicating and learning from the world around them again.

During my art therapy assessments and sessions I help parents and families understand more, from their child's point of view. Learning about their challenges in their own time by understanding about how they feel through the art making process. This can help break down barriers and have more open communication. Often it is the parents guilt to protect, that enables the child's avoidance of any difficulties. It is true that sometimes for parents it is difficult as therapy can have a stigma. Although art therapy can be a more accessible and less scary way for the child to explore their feelings.

One parent of a child, I was working with, came for art therapy to help with their child after he was struggling with the family divorce.

"He began to exhibit a number of nervous traits including eye twitching and lip biting".

"From a scared, angry, stressed-out boy, he became confident, calm, accepting and smiling again. Art Therapy helped him communicate, which is key in facing any problem in life. He used to keep it all in but now he comes and talks about anything that bothers him,"(with kind permission from parent for quote).


Category(s):Art Therapy, Divorce / Divorce Adjustment, Family Problems

Written by:

Andrew C Wright HCPC registered (UK)

Registered art psychotherapist trained at Goldsmiths College, University of London in 2002. Has over 20 years of experience of working in the health care field.

Andrew is currently based in the UK and works with children, adults/ couples who have difficulties such as attachment, trauma, stress, anxiety and depression.

Andrew C Wright HCPC registered (UK) belongs to Art Therapy International Centre in Singapore

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