When working with adolescents and teenagers it can often be intimidating to sit across from a stranger and ‘talk about your feelings’. Many teens are hesitant about attending therapy out of fear that it will be uncomfortable or boring. Our therapists employ creative approaches when working with older children and teenagers that allow for creative expression of feelings and relationship building between therapist and client.
Some of these approaches include: painting, drawing, using clay or sculpting, creating something such as jewelry or using color to represent various things such as emotions or situations. Other approaches involve playing music, dancing, anger release exercises such as hitting a punching bag or creating a scene in a tray of sand (sand tray).
This creative process which draws on more ‘right brain’ activity allows for relaxation and encourages emotional regulation through focusing on the creative task. This approach often breaks down tension or apprehension in attending therapy. Traditional ‘talk therapy’ employs a left brain approach which forces us to use more critical thinking skills to verbalize emotions. Right brain approaches allow us to actually experience our feelings, oftentimes through our senses-visual, kinesthetic (movement), tactile (touch), olfactory (smell/taste) and auditory. Traumatic and painful memories are stored in the right brain and are often experienced and resolved through sensory experiences such as creative expression.
Here is a great article on Attachment and Creative Art Therapy that discusses a lot of these ideas.