How Art Therapy Can Help Your Troubled Teen

Talk therapy is one of the most common forms of counseling, however some teens will shut-down or not participate. Learn how art therapy can help your troubled teen.

Will clinical art therapy help my troubled teen? Art therapists are specially trained in both psychological and artistic principles. This training directs them in choosing the materials and focus appropriate to a teens’ specific needs.


Many residential treatment centers now use art therapy to help teenagers work through their problems and it is been used to reach even the most difficult teens. Art therapy offers a nonthreatening way for teens to express their feelings.

Studies suggest that art therapy can be very valuable in treating issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and even some phobias. It is a great way to express your emotions without words, process complex feelings and find relief.

Art therapy sessions will typically ask the teen to create art around a certain idea.

For example:

  • Paint what their feelings or sadness are like
  • Sculpt their family from clay
  • Photo collage of their feelings from magazine clippings
  • Draw a portrait of how they think others see them

Benefits of Art Therapy Works with Troubled Teens

Many parents have experienced their teen shutting down with traditional talk-therapy. While some adolescents won’t engage, others don’t express themselves well verbally. In some cases, a teen’s problems are too painful or complicated to put into words. This is where other forms of therapy – such as animal-assisted therapy and art therapy can be beneficial. Art therapy is also beneficial for dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

As a type of expressive therapy, art therapy works very well with some teens because it is:

  • Non-threatening with less of a direct focus on the teen.
  • A safe outlet for expressing what they are feeling inside.
  • A process over which the teen feels a sense of control.
  • The session is both interesting and creative.
  • A way to discover underlying thoughts and feelings.
  • Easier to develop a strong relationship with the therapist.

Clinical art therapy can be effective for adolescents who usually see it as a nonthreatening form of treatment. The art that the adolescent produces can help the therapist gain some idea of the youth’s concerns and life circumstances, especially those situations that are too risky to reveal or too personally embarrassing to relate. This awareness better equips the therapist in efforts to protect and support the adolescent during this turbulent time of life.

Read: Goals of Therapeutic Boarding Schools.

Read: Where Can I  Send My Troubled Teen.

Read: 5 Benefits of Therapeutic Boarding Schools.

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