Autism Art Therapy in Michigan

Art is a universal language for people around the world. For those who may have difficulty with communication and expression, art may be a useful tool to use to overcome challenges. Art Therapy can be utilized in counseling sessions and with all ages as a less invasive way to communicate and process difficult feelings. 

At Blossom Children’s Center, art therapy sessions are offered in a variety of ways and led by master-level clinicians trained in both mental health and art therapy:

  • Individual, sibling and family sessions
  • Groups for children and adults
  • Weekend workshops

Individual session durations can last between 30 minutes to 1 hour and are designed to fit each individual’s needs.

Art therapy sessions for young children often target goals related to emotional regulation, anxiety, distress tolerance, confidence, fine motor skills, problem solving skills, sensory exploration and communication.

What is Art therapy?

According to the American Art Therapy Association, “Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art-making to improve and enhance the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem, and self-awareness, and achieve insight.”

There is no single way to provide art therapy; as a result, it can look very different when practiced by and with different individuals. It can be free-flowing or structured, open-ended or goal-oriented.

How Art Therapy Is Different From Art Classes?

Art therapy is a tool for helping clients to access their emotions. Emphasis is on the artmaking process instead of the product. By contrast, art classes are intended to provide students with instruction on how to achieve specific artistic effects or goals. While art classes may be appropriate for those who enjoy art and want to improve their skills, they are not a substitute or the same as art therapy.

How does Art therapy help Autistic Individuals?

Many autistic individuals have an extraordinary ability to think visually “in pictures.” Many can turn that ability to good use in processing memories, recording images and visual information, and expressing ideas through drawing or other artistic media. Art is a form of expression that requires little or no verbal interaction that can open doors to communication. For children and adults with autism, it can be a wonderful way to open doors to self-expression and engagement.

Art therapy offers an opportunity for therapists to work one-on-one with individuals to build a wide range of skills in a manner which may be more comfortable (and thus more effective) than spoken language.

What Art Therapists Do for People With Autism:

Art therapy has a history of opening up a whole world of opportunity and confidence to individuals with autism. Those who are artistically inclined may find joy and inner peace. In other cases, it has created a unique opportunity for personal bonding, self-reflection and problem solving skills.

Other possible outcomes include:

  • Improved ability to imagine and think symbolically
  • Improved mindfulness and stress-regulation
  • Improved ability to recognize and respond to facial expressions
  • Improved ability to manage sensory issues (problems with stickiness, etc.)
  • Improved fine motor skills

Art Therapy Association. Art therapy and autism spectrum disorder integrating creative interventions. Web. 2017.

Schweizer, Celine et al. Art therapy with children with autism spectrum disorders: A review of clinical case descriptions on ‘what works.’The Arts in Psychotherapy Volume 41, Issue 5, November 2014, Pages 577-593.

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