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What Feelings Are In Your Heart: An Art Therapy Exercise for Kids

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Art therapy is an extension to talk therapy which may be helpful in the exploration of one’s feeling through visual expression in the absence of words. One of my favorite worksheets for kids that I’ve made is called “Feelings Heart”. The objective of this intervention is to allow children to develop vocabulary and identification of feelings to promote healthy expression of emotion. This exercise also serves as an open ended question about how the child views their world at the moment. It can also be used as an assessment tool and progress can be tracked by repeating the exercise and recording and comparing results.

Feelings Heart j.001

 

The way I use this exercise is to explain that everyone has feelings or emotions and this is normal. I explain that there is no right or wrong way to do this exercise. I help the child brainstorm and list the emotions they can think of and suggest some that may be missing from their lexicon. If a child is particularly hesitant, I may also do a feelings heart along with them or include a parent for modeling.

Using crayons, colored pencils, or markers, I have the child choose what colors match each emotion for them. For example, angry might be red or sad might be blue. Then the child colors in how much of their heart is feeling that emotion right now.

This information is then used as a conversation starter. I have also used this in family sessions as a way to promote communication of feelings.

Here’s a completed feelings heart that I’ve done as an example:

feelings heart completed

According to Artherapyjournal.org,

While children can often benefit from therapy, especially if they have mental health problems or disabilities, they may find it scary or difficult to properly express themselves in a clinical setting. This is particularly true for young children who generally have limited vocabularies and those that don’t speak the primary language in the country where they live. In addition to or in lieu of standard therapy methods, kids can use art to communicating their thoughts and feelings to the adults who want to help them deal with their life challenges.

Art therapy is a psychotherapy wherein patients use art in varying ways. The most common way is to escape from the stress of illness or disability. It is also used as a symbolic language. With the help of the therapist, the child deciphers the meaning of the picture and discusses the underlying issues that inspired the artwork. No matter how it is used, art therapy can be a creative outlet for children struggling with the circumstances of their lives. Read Full Article

 

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Jessica Spence, MC, NCC, LPC, LCAS-R is the Mental Health and Wellness Staff Writer for Social Work Helper, and she is also a Licensed Professional Counselor with Tree of Life Counseling in Greensboro, North Carolina, US. She is a National Certified Counselor and is registered with the North Carolina Substance Abuse Professional Practice Board. She also participates in The Secular Therapist Project.

          
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