Art therapy is for babies


No.  Really.  Art therapy is great for people who are preverbal or who have limited verbal skills for other reasons (such as disability, illness, or language barriers).  The sensory aspect of art making has been shown to promote the growth of new neurons, to promote the development of motor skills, and to aid in top down development in babies and young children.  Engaging with the art materials reduces stress and has a regulating effect on the nervous system.  It also encourages the development of problem solving skills, self-control and mastery, and can foster creativity and a zest for learning.  In the context of an art therapy session conducted by an art therapist, a baby or young child can increase secure attachment after a separation or rocky start, build trust, and build and strengthen relationships with caregivers.  Art therapy can support caregivers to bond with their child, reduce their own stress and anxiety, to increase their confidence, and to heal from their own historical traumas.  Of course, it is important that to have age appropriate expectations and materials.  A baby is not going to create a museum quality masterpiece.  At this stage, the focus is on experiencing the art materials with the senses.  Squishing the clay, feeling the slippery paint, smelling the dough, and inevitably tasting things as well.  Good thing there are so many non-toxic, and even edible material options out there! 


Mind maps


Ok, so mind mapping isn’t technically art therapy…but why not?  It can be such a useful tool for self-discovery and problem solving.  Free writing has its place in art therapy and mind mapping is pretty similar.  It’s great for when you have a general idea of what you are feeling, but you want to expand upon it, or dig deeper into it.  It’s also great for helping you get started when you don’t know what you are feeling.  Mind mapping is great for discovering themes and patterns in behavior.  It’s also great for identifying voices or messages that aren’t yours.  Mind mapping is my personal go-to technique.  I use it for everything.  Generating fresh ideas, exploring different feelings, debriefing after emotionally loaded experiences, organizing thoughts and feelings, planning in my personal and work life, and for processing art after an art therapy session.  It’s also a good starter technique for people who might not be ready to make art.  It is a containing activity, and allows for some creativity for people who aren’t quite ready to move from an intellectual headspace, into a creative one.