The Benefits of Expressive Therapy for Kids

Any parent knows how impossible it is for their kids to sit still for more than 10 minutes, let alone an hour of therapy. As they get older, however, the benefits of therapy become more prevalent. So how do you force your child to sit through an hour of therapy? Luckily, therapeutic techniques have evolved to meet kids where they’re at: let’s talk about expressive therapy.

group of kids drawing

Expressive therapy encompasses various therapeutic approaches that use creative arts as a form of expression. It allows children to explore their feelings and communicate in ways that might be more comfortable or natural than traditional talk therapy. Types of expressive therapy include: 

Art Therapy: Using drawing, painting and other visual arts to explore emotions.

Music Therapy: Engaging in music creating, listening, or movement to music for emotional expression and processing.

Dance/Movement Therapy: Using body movement to express and process feelings. This also includes simply moving the body during session to help with regulation and releasing energy.

Recreational Therapy: Client and therapist engage in recreational activities, including but not limited to: rock climbing, hiking, sports or equine-assisted therapy. Engagement in these activities incorporates natural opportunities for social skills, problem solving and emotional regulation.

Play Therapy: Using toys, sand tray scenes or improvisation, to name a few, to engage in imaginative play with a child to explore thoughts and feelings. 

The team at Decade2Connect utilizes various expressive therapy forms on a daily basis and watches kids connect to their emotions in impactful ways. Below are just a few of the benefits of expressive therapies:

Enhanced Emotional Expression

Children often find it challenging to verbalize their emotions. Expressive therapy provides them with alternative ways to convey their feelings. For instance, a child might draw a picture to show what they are feeling inside, which can be a significant first step in opening up emotionally.

boy sits on floor with parents playing with blocks

Improved Mental Health

Studies have shown that expressive therapies can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and trauma. By providing a safe outlet for expressing difficult emotions, children can process and release feelings that might otherwise lead to mental health issues.

Boosted Confidence

Expressive therapy is a valuable way to meet kids where they’re at. To use their own creative ideas and expression as a tool for processing emotions instills in them a sense of accomplishment and self worth. It’s extremely powerful! This boost in confidence can translate to better performance in school, improved social interactions, and a stronger sense of self. It may even translate to increased motivation in the passions instilled inside them.

Problem-Solving Skills

Engaging in creative processes often involves experimentation and overcoming challenges. This can help children develop important problem-solving skills and resilience. For example, figuring out how to convey a complex emotion through art can enhance a child’s ability to tackle real-life problems.

Decade2Connect sees children walk through our doors afraid to open up in therapy – often due to their limited belief of what therapy is. When they realize sessions look like sitting at the art table and drawing, or tossing a ball back and forth, they open up. Therapy suddenly becomes much more accessible, even a safe place for them. 

If your child struggles to process their emotions, a form of expressive therapy may be a good place to start. Therapy is a full body experience; by connecting kids not just to their words but their bodies, creative mind and all their senses, healing begins to happen. To learn more about expressive therapy, connect with a member of Decade2Connect today!

Our Intensive Outpatient Program is in-network with United!