Expressive arts therapy offers 12-year-old alternative help when talking didn’t cut it

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Picture of girl holding a paintbrush

A 12-year-old girl who does art therapy says the method helps her control herself and relax.

OMAHA, Neb. — Creative Arts Therapies Week begins on March 15. It’s a week dedicated to raising awareness about the benefits of using expressive arts like painting, writing, dancing, and drama for therapy, WOWT reported.

Expressive arts therapist Betsy Funk said it’s a different approach to therapy and one that works for one particular 12-year-old girl, along with other kids she works with.

“It’s hard for kids to sit there and conceptualize and come up with the words to explain how they’re feeling and what they’ve been through. It feels heavy. It’s hard too,” Funk says. “If you’re using a creative process, it’s much more comfortable and doesn’t feel overwhelming and invasive, so I think it’s been a really good tool for her.”

The 12-year-old wished to remain anonymous, but she said she has tried other forms of therapy in the past. She said she didn’t like “talk therapy” and eventually stopped going.

A few months ago she started expressive arts therapy with Funk and took to it immediately. Thursday, she was painting a vision board.

“Art therapy helps me control myself and helps me get relaxed. Paintings that I do tell their own story in a way, and when I paint, it tells my story,” she said.

Funk says the kids she works with can paint, write and play games while they talk about hurdles and challenges they may be facing.

“It’s been a great tool for her, especially coming from not doing therapy at all to at least coming in, and she’ll sit with me and open up in her way. It’s been really great for her,” Funk said.

She also talked about the big change she has seen in the 12-year-old girl since their first session together. She says the girl is more confident and assertive.

“She’s a lot more open, she smiles a lot more, she’s more talkative, she’s much more at ease,” Funk said. “I’m still learning a lot more from her, but in a way that she feels comfortable sharing.”

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