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The Benefit Of Art Psychotherapy In Early Childhood Development

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I feel that in regards to John’s case study the benefits of art psychotherapy would have helped John with his well-being and emotions. David Edwards suggests from a modern perspective, art therapy may be a method of therapy in which creating images and objects plays a dominant role in the psychotherapeutic relationship when it is recognised with the art therapist and client (2013). Edwards also goes on to explain the importance of the therapeutic change in art therapy, on how it takes place (2013). He explains that the triangular relationship model is important during a creative process itself, to the nature of the relationships recognized between client and therapist, in the United Kingdom art therapists would argue that these have variety of factors. In art therapy, this dynamic is frequently stated as the triangular relationship (Edwards, 2013).

I have created my own diagram of the triangular relationship, the shapes and symbols are artwork, the small white person is the client and the large white person is the art therapist in the triangle. The triangular relationship can be larger or smaller on the emphasis used maybe for each axis and can be among, for example, the client and their artwork or towards the client and the art therapist, this can occur during a single meeting or over time (Edwards, 2013). I feel this is a useful way to work with a client and keeping a triangular relationship builds more trust.

The British association of art therapists defines art therapy a method of psychotherapy; it utilizes art media as its primary mode of expression and communication (2013). In contrast to this, Milton Hammerly explains art is a nonverbal communication, it may also support people to express feelings that they might keep buried within themselves (2001). It might encourage people to solve emotional conflicts, build social skills, encourage self-awareness, control behaviour, reduce anxiety and depression, solve problems, expand self-esteem and become content in life (Hammerly, 2001). On the other hand, Marian Liebmann suggests art psychotherapy involves physical feelings and mental activity intricately, intimately and simultaneously intertwined. These actions mirror that complex pattern developed in infancy in the brain itself. The neurobiology of making relationships and learning in childhood offers us a model of recovery. Our language emphasizes the importance of the visual to the verbal; we realise, feel, and make patterns, long before we can speak, because such skills are essential to basics of learning language (2015). It can also be an extremely effective therapy tool for both adults and children (Hammerly, 2001). Similarly, Caroline Case and Tessa Dalley suggest children with many different styles of needs and disorders can benefit significantly from working with an art therapist (1992). One of the important qualities of working in art psychotherapy is using the art materials, children who are non-verbal can work through their difficulties, that they are trying to express (Wood, 1984). On the other hand, Lisa Furman suggests the difficult situation of ethical practice in art therapy can begin with the use of art materials being an important part of treatment (2013). I feel this is important to establish because it might not be ethical for it be treated as medical treatment in my opinion. Although, ethics is a vital part in helping profession because it comes with a responsibility and the actions of others (Furman, 2013). One of the top ways to figure a strong sense of inner ethics is to consider when unusual physical feelings arise around ethical problems (Furman, 2013). For example, if a child had opened up to the art therapist about having sexual feelings for him or her. This clarifies that in attempt to reduce these conflicts; most values of practice develop guidelines, which is mandatory ethics (Furman, 2013). Mandatory ethics order a minimal standard; usually reflecting legal guidelines, by an individual’s practice (Furman, 2013). I feel mandatory ethics is a key guideline that every art psychotherapist should be required to understand and follow. Although, GoodTherapy indicates there are restrictions and worries about art psychotherapy (2016). Still, some individuals may consider they are not creative or artistic sufficient for the treatment to be successful, even though the aim of treatment is to express one's opinions and feelings, not to create artistic masterpieces. The success of art therapy maybe criticized, due to a lack of supporting experimental evidence (GT, 2016). Yet, Paula Martin states that art psychotherapy has remained in the healing process to release stress and improve coping mechanisms, in an energy to treat both the physical and mental needs of the patient (2020)

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Psychological development and diagnosis on placement

Having discussed about critical awareness of ethics in art psychotherapy and benefits for children, as a trainee art therapist, I feel it is important to create an art therapy intervention based on personality development to enhance a trusting relationship with my clients. The work setting I will be going into is a rehabilitation center and a forensic low secure unit, which will involve a variety of clients with various diagnoses. The clients I may encounter might have suffered from depression during their childhood or had some sort of issues during their childhood in relation to relationships and separation. I would like to provide a framework that helps my clients to work through any difficulties, experience, emotions, and thoughts of depression they might have. I feel a useful framework of model would be Sigmund Freud’s, personality theory of the conscious, pre-conscious and sub-conscious practice. His model explains Kendra Cherry describing it as the three levels of the mind:

  • The preconscious mind holds anything that could possibly be taken into the conscious mind.
  • The conscious mind covers all of the thoughts, memories, feelings, and wishes of which we are conscious at any set moment (2019).
  • The unconscious mind is a thought of feelings, views, needs, and reminiscences that are outside of our conscious awareness. The unconscious contains subjects that are unacceptable or unpleasant, such as emotions of pain, anxiety, or battle (Cherry, 2019).

I feel this would be a supportive framework to use because it helps to understand a deeper and richer understanding of what makes each person different. When working with clients, I feel knowing this model of practice will be useful when working with others because it improves the self and shows healthy personal growth.

Imagination, Play and Symbolic Processes

I feel the need to also clarify the prominence of critical gratitude of theories that notify art psychotherapy in relation to imagination, play and symbolic procedures. Mariane Hedegaard argues about Vygotsky’s theory of play, children’s imagination expands in relation between objects and meanings and between actions and meanings. A person’s way of observing and acting is socially connected with feelings shared by other people. For the infant and small child, the object and actions controls the senses. They are integrated. Play is very vital for child’s development of imagination because through play the child is able to separate the object and the meaning (2016). In addition, Malissa Morrell suggests Jung stating symbols represent a deeper, indescribable, spiritual process in which the spirit works to heal and defend itself (2011). I feel in an art psychotherapy session, play and understanding symbols is vital for working with clients because the client does not need to focus on making a masterpiece in thinking about their work. Although Simon Grolnick explains, that Donald Winnicott suggests constantly that when playing becomes energy infested and excited, it fails the creative growth-building capability and starts to interchange to a loss of control or non-believing (1990). Yet, Hedegaard argues play is key in early childhood because it gives children the opportunity to engage actively and imaginatively into the world (2016). In regards to this, I feel play, imagination and symbolic process gives further expansion for children to develop and grow by vigorously engaging in it.


Overall, I have discussed the importance of each subject matter, the purpose of this essay is to explain the benefits of art psychotherapy for depression in early childhood development, with all the research, watched films, articles and books that I have read, I have come to a conclusion that there are issues with each aspect of my subject area. Childhood development can have complications in neglect and abuse, investing in mental health can be cost effective, benefits of art psychotherapy can have problems around ethics, play, imagination and symbolic process are argued with many opinions, john’s case study showed emotions of a distress baby. Yet, I believe people have argued different views and ideas of how art psychotherapy can benefit children in early childhood development, in my opinion, depression does occur in a child but there are many vital positive aspects to helping a child with the help of art psychotherapy, play therapy and other interventions of framework. For the future, I feel that people should be aware, depression does not just occur in adults but also the young who are not able to open up about their feelings. In addition, the possible future plans I feel art psychotherapy can benefit a child if the practice, ethics, funding and goals work in place for a child. It is also clear art psychotherapy; I believe it can bring positive aspects to a human’s life with more funding and accreditation.

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The Benefit Of Art Psychotherapy In Early Childhood Development. (2021, September 20). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from
“The Benefit Of Art Psychotherapy In Early Childhood Development.” Edubirdie, 20 Sept. 2021,
The Benefit Of Art Psychotherapy In Early Childhood Development. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Feb. 2024].
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