5 ways art can be healing for the whole family

5 ways art can be healing for the whole family

The cancer journey can be very challenging for children whose parents have cancer, even if they are too young to understand what is happening. Art therapy and family art projects can be a healing experience for children and adults alike. According to Nancy Morales, MFA, ATR, a counseling intern at Cancer Wellness, art can: 

  1. Empower children with confidence. In addition to art therapy, children and parents can enjoy artistic activities at home together. "I recommend parents allow their child to choose the activity and direct it," says Morales. "Children can be empowered because they are guiding their parents through the art process." Don't worry about the end product. The art itself isn't really what's important.  

  2. Give children an outlet to express their feelings. "Children often don't have the words to describe their emotions," she says. During art therapy, Morales may ask a child to draw an animal that looks angry and then ask the child to describe why the animal might be angry. "This way, the child isn't pressured to disclose his own feelings. He can express them through a piece of art. With art therapy, we tap into imagery and then build language around that imagery."

  3. Level the playing field. "Adults tend to have an advantage in family activities because they have the skills and experience," she explains. "However, if a family chooses to work with an art therapist, children often have the advantage because many adults haven't used art materials since middle school."

  4. Reduce stress. "Playing with art materials can be relaxing and when people are relaxed, they tend to open up and share some of the issues that have been bothering them," she explains.  

  5. Strengthen the family bond. "It's like any other family activity it's about bonding with your children, coming together and participating in the same activity," says Morales. "It brings the whole family together during a difficult time."

See additional creative ways to reduce stress and anxiety.


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