Art Therapy for Children and Adolescents

Art Therapy for Children and Adolescents

Are you concerned about the well-being of a child or teenager who you care about?

Along with the safety of the therapy relationship, art making has helped many children and adolescents gain an increased sense of well-being, as well as to find strength and live more harmoniously with themselves and others around them. Increased well-being generally facilitates coursework learning and more appropriate behaviours, as well as helping the child to build healthier and more fruitful relationships with family and friends.


Mother of an 11-year-old boy who received 18 hours of art therapy due to anxiety, anger, speech impediments, distress and behavioural problems:

“In the art therapy sessions, my son grappled with his problems without being directly aware that he was doing so. He drew pictures, played and made all kinds of things: it was a process of working through his problems without him necessarily being aware of it. He simply thought he was drawing, constructing things and playing, and as a result he became calmer and felt better, he spoke more clearly and everything began to improve.”

The boy’s teacher:

“Following art therapy, it was easier for him to concentrate. He was more active with school work, became calmer and more positive, and expressed himself more clearly.”

Mother of a seven-year-old girl, on the art therapy that her daughter completed:

“… In short, she’s doing really well. She’s all smiles. You asked what I had thought about the art therapy and what I had expected from it when we started [the mother was only present for part of the therapy]. To be perfectly honest, given that I didn’t know what to expect and that I hadn’t heard much about art therapy, I decided that I would approach it with a positive attitude, because as things stood, life just wasn’t working. My husband had more faith in her medication but I had more faith in the process of communication. I have to say, though, that in the first sessions I didn’t know what was going on, I thought she [the art therapist] didn’t talk enough and I somehow assumed that she would wave a magic wand that would unleash an unhindered verbal flood and it would only take a few sessions for her to express what was wrong. However, I soon understood that it didn’t work that way and that things needed their own time. I started to see how she gradually opened up and everything became easier. I decided then and there to give her the time she needed and not to pressure anything. I also found that it was really good for me to be able to participate – our communication became much easier. If I were asked whether I would do this again if I wound up in the same situation, I would definitely answer yes. I would encourage everyone to allow the therapy the time it needs.”

Testimony about the progress of a girl who had experienced a traumatic event, and who, at the onset of therapy, felt uneasy, struggled with concentrating and felt socially marginalized:

“Art therapy has led to dramatic changes with her, for the better. She is calmer, more in control and has increased social skills.”

Sigurborg Magnúsdóttir, head of division

“There is an air of calm and peace to the child now. She is happier and more joyful. She quarrels less with the other children.”

Brynja Aðalbergsdóttir, head of preschool

“She experiences increased moments of joy, she is more positive, increasingly in control, and finds it easier to concentrate. She is also less angry.”

Þröstur Leó J., teaching assistant

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