Teens: Here’s How Teen Art Therapy Works

Teens: Here’s How Teen Art Therapy Works

Teen Art therapy works with the images in your mind. At times, when the mind is inflicted by disease, these images might be self-destructive, leading to teen addiction, depression, and suicide. If, for example, you have an image of yourself that is shameful or unworthy or unlovable, it might be hard to feel deserving of what life has to offer. It might be difficult to find the energy to manage the emotional, psychological, and physical changes taking place during adolescence.

However, art therapy gives you a special opportunity. Instead of only talking out your concerns, you can:

  1. Express yourself in a different way
  2. Replace old images with new ones.

Expressing yourself through art activates a different part of the brain that speaks a different language. The unconscious mind speaks mostly through images, symbols, dreams, and metaphor. Since art is made up of images, it can be a way to access this particular part of the brain. Talking your concerns out can also be therapeutic, yet at times, it can be necessary to reach for those deeply embedded images that might be self-destructive.

It is easy to develop an unhealthy self-image as a result of trauma. Often, because children are not yet developed psychologically, they attempt to explain the trauma by taking the blame for it. Rather than placing the blame on their parents, whom they need for their survival, in their under-developed minds, it makes more sense for children to take the blame for physical or sexual trauma.

A similar experience is true when there is addiction in the home. There is often a high level of vulnerability, danger, and potential emotional and psychological unrest in families with addiction. In an attempt to feel safe, children will also take the blame here too. The same self-blaming can happen with when there is a death in the family or when there is a domestic violence among parents.

Sadly, destructive self-images stay with children even after they’ve grown up into adolescence and adulthood. What art therapy can do is explore those inner images and replace them. Through the use painting, collage, or clay, you can recreate your inner images so that they support your life.

The field of neuroscience has begun to support the importance of imagery. Recent brain research has found that the part of the brain that is activated when an individual is using his or her imagination is the same part of the brain that is activated when he or she is actually doing that same activity. It has been discovered that the brain cannot tell the difference between imagination and what is real in one’s environment. Furthermore, drawing or creating an image through art is more powerful than only imagining an image, making lasting changes in the brain.

Of course, the process of making art also gives you the opportunity to express your thoughts and feelings. In fact, both the process itself as well as the images that are created have a therapeutic effect.

Art therapy is so effective that there are psychologists and therapists who specialize in this therapeutic modality. Plus, as you are navigating the terrain of adolescence, art therapy can be particularly useful because there are parts of the brain that are still in its development. Even if you’re not working with a therapist, drawing or painting out your inner images can be a therapeutic tool to use when you’re feeling the full range of emotions that comes with being a teenager.

– By Robert Hunt

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