Health Wise: Building Creative Self-Expression and Confidence

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 05/07/2018 - 10:31

Hey all, I hope you're enjoying this spring weather. Springtime is a great time to talk about art, isn't it?

Often times when I use art as a medium of creative expression with my young clients in the therapy room, I come across remarks like, “I am not an artist… I am not good at art…”
Feelings of insecurity and lack of confidence are some common concerns that show up during this process. When asked to express what is going on with them internally, through a medium that is distinct from verbal or written expression, some children may be hesitant to try or might even get frustrated with their resulting art piece.
In using art, my intention is to observe and follow the process of creation, not the quality of the final product. However, this struggle is real. I get it!
Building creative self-expression through art can be a very powerful tool in re-framing the negative narratives of doubt and insecurity, among children. You may notice, that the process of art parallels other parts of a child’s life. When feelings of doubt, self-criticism, and anxiety show up as part of artistic creations, it is valuable to explore the resulting effects of these feelings in other situations for the child, as well.
So, how can we engage children in a process that actively supports them in building their natural self-expression, their own voice and a sense of confidence?
Here are a few ways to try ~
1. Focus on the Creative Process. As a society, we are accustomed to believe that only certain people can be “artists”. Let’s alter this belief for our children. All of us have the capacity and the ability to be creative in our own ways. Encourage your child to use art, any medium - paint, crayons, paper mache, magazine collages, twigs, dried leaves, rocks, etc. to express their feelings and emotions openly, not worrying about what the final product looks like.
2. Create an Image for the Inner Critic. We all have this tiny little voice in our heads, better know as the inner criticSupport your child in becoming aware of their critic. Ask them to explore the feelings that the critic creates, particularly those of insecurity and doubt. Then let them imagine what this critic might look like. Ask them to draw, paint, or scribble on paper the imaginary characteristics of the critic. As a parallel process, encourage the child to look at other areas in their life where the critic comes up for them and brings them down.  
3. Start Small.  Work with your child by unraveling the belief of “I am not a creative person” or “I cannot be an artist”. Explore, the origin of this belief with them. Where did they pick up this message? In school? Among family members? Do they feel something can only be creative, when it is beautifully drawn or painted? After this exploration, encourage them to start creating something small. For example, a scribble on a post-it note, just a few lines on a piece of paper, or some concentric circles on an index card.

Thanks for reading!

P.S. – I hope you enjoy supporting your children in building self-expression and confidence through their own ways of creative learning. For more insights about the nature of the creative process, look out for my next blog. Until then, enjoy the sunshine!

Mansi Brat's picture
Mansi Brat
Mansi is a psychotherapist at Still Waters Counseling. She earned her Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Lindenwood University, MO. She also earned her doctoral degree in Counselor Education from the University of Toledo, OH with an emphasis in Mindfulness Meditation. Mansi values an integrative and strength-based counseling approach. She believes in holistic wellness that embodies the person as a “whole” – the physical, intellectual, spiritual, emotional, occupational, social, and environmental aspects of healing. Her philosophy resides on the foundational elements of instilling hope through creative transformation and sound intentionality. Incorporating these in unison, Mansi’s aim is to provide a sound space of comfort, warmth and trust that enables individual’s to find their purpose and meaning in life. Mansi is also a certified yoga instructor. Her journey began back in 2010 when she started exploring holistic forms of healing and wellness. As this exploration developed, she noticed subtle changes in her thoughts and perception of what it means to be well. More so, she developed a deep connection with her innermost self. For her, yoga is creating a space of awareness. It is in this awareness that the mind ceases to control all external worries and anxieties. Through her classes, she aims to teach her students the beauty of being present to the ‘now’. I invite you to experience a journey beyond yourself, uncovering boundless possibilities to rediscover your eternal self. Welcome aboard!