At Paradigm San Francisco, we offer Teen Art Therapy as one of our Expressive Arts Therapy programs. One of the many reasons we choose to incorporate Expressive Arts sessions is for the unique opportunities they offer for teens to engage in therapeutic work, in creative, non-traditional ways. Art Therapy is a treatment modality that incorporates numerous different aspects of art and the creation thereof, as a means for teens to access and express their current experiences. Our Art Therapy program is used in conjunction with a number of other therapeutic sessions and activities, including individual, peer group, and family therapy sessions.
Teen Art Therapy is based on helping teens to engage in and value the artistic process, in a therapeutic context. In this sense, the emphasis isn’t about the appearance or quality of art, but rather, how to engage with it, without judgment. This aspect of the Art Therapy process also mirrors teaching teens how to observe themselves without reacting judgmentally or holding beliefs about what should or should not be. By practicing this kind of observation, creation, and reflection toward art and the artistic process, teens in turn feel able to freely access their own deeper thoughts and feelings, without judgment, as well. These kinds of discoveries prove extremely useful, then, when incorporated into other aspects of teens’ overall treatment plans.
Teen Art Therapy sessions often provide teens with different kinds of opportunities to access their feelings, thoughts, and insights into behaviors. Because the therapeutic process in these sessions is more organic than some traditional talk therapy sessions, often teens feel able to engage more easily and/or more deeply with particular aspects of their experience. This includes encouraging teens to address their feelings, current thoughts and thought patterns, belief systems, conflicts, and identity. Guided by the art therapist throughout the sessions, teens are able to reflect upon thing such as: new positive ways they might be able to improve their social skills, how to work on relationships, how to create more self-awareness, and/or how to address particular feelings of anxiety, depression, and/or overall stress in their lives. Throughout this work, Art Therapy not only can help teens to process these important aspects in their lives, but can also help them to feel empowered and encouraged in their abilities as well as their own sense of self-worth.
It’s worth noting that the quality and depth of Art Therapy sessions is largely determined by the skill of the Art Therapist and her or his ability to direct the artistic and therapeutic processes. All of our Art Therapists at Paradigm San Francisco are credentialed, Master’s level therapists, who are highly skilled in their areas of study, as well as working with adolescents. Generally speaking, teens tend to love our Art Therapy sessions and find them to be valuable, poignant aspect of their treatment here at Paradigm San Francisco.