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.
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
Introducing the Feelings Heart exercise in therapy can be a powerful tool for helping children understand and express their emotions. This simple yet effective activity creates a safe space where children can explore and normalize their feelings. In this blog post, we will delve into the process of using the Feelings Heart exercise, its benefits, and how it can be incorporated into both individual and family therapy sessions.
- Normalizing Emotions: Begin by emphasizing the importance of normalizing emotions. Explain to the child that everyone experiences a wide range of emotions, and it is perfectly normal to feel different emotions at different times. By setting this foundation, you create an environment where the child feels validated and understood.
- Guided Brainstorming: Guide the child through a brainstorming session to help them identify and list various emotions. Encourage them to think about both basic emotions, such as happiness, anger, sadness, and fear, as well as more complex emotions like excitement, frustration, or jealousy. If needed, offer suggestions to expand their emotional lexicon.
- Color-Coding Emotions: Using crayons, colored pencils, or markers, invite the child to assign colors to each emotion based on their personal association. For example, they might choose red to represent anger or blue for sadness. This color-coding process allows them to visually connect their emotions with specific hues, making the exercise more personalized and engaging.
- Filling in the Feelings Heart: With their colors chosen, the child can now proceed to fill in their Feelings Heart. Encourage them to color in each section of the heart according to how much of that emotion they are currently experiencing. This exercise provides a visual representation of their emotional state, allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of their feelings.
- Utilizing the Feelings Heart: The completed Feelings Heart serves as a valuable conversation starter. Engage the child in a dialogue about their emotions, asking open-ended questions like “What made you feel this way?” or “How does it feel to have a lot of [specific emotion] in your heart?” This process promotes self-reflection, insight, and the development of emotional vocabulary.
- Extending to Family Therapy: The Feelings Heart exercise can be adapted for family therapy sessions as well. Encourage family members to create their own Feelings Hearts and share their emotions with one another. This activity fosters open communication, empathy, and understanding within the family unit, strengthening their emotional connection.
The Feelings Heart exercise is a versatile and effective therapeutic tool for exploring and discussing emotions with children. By normalizing feelings, guiding brainstorming, assigning colors, and engaging in conversation, this exercise empowers children to express and navigate their emotions in a healthy way. Whether used in individual or family therapy, the Feelings Heart exercise promotes emotional awareness, communication, and growth, ultimately enhancing the therapeutic process.