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Art and Music Therapy

Creativity is the lifeline of childhood exploration. Children utilize creativity to discover hobbies, role models, methods of success, and failure. Because childhood is a relatively modern concept, we are still learning ways to capitalize on this natural component of development to support the appropriate development paths of young people. In class this week, we looked at two therapy tools that utilize the natural creative nature of children to dig deep into their natural psyche.

Adults and children alike are often afraid of art because they feel the defining nature of art lies in the final product. Instead, art as a therapy tool teaches us that the process is more important than the final product. Art affords an opportunity to escape to many people. Children often times do not have access to artistic expression. A primary example of this restriction is the hospital. Hospitals are not developmentally supportive environments for young people. In response, youth workers exert extra energy to ensure that children can have a developmentally appropriate experience in hospitals. A primary example of this is the implementation of art therapy in the hospital. Specialized employees can utilize tools to empower young people to tell a story through the process of creating art. With a simple basket of supplies, an art therapist can work with a student to understand what they miss about the “outside world” or what they like the most about being in the hospital.

We had the opportunity to try a traditional art therapy project in class on Tuesday. We each selected a mask and were given a plethora of supplies to customize our masks. The inside of our mask was to represent who we feel we truly are and the outside was meant to represent who we present to the world. My mask tells the world that I am a successful and creative leader. The mask reminds me that I am struggling with fear, anxiety, anticipation, and failure. The inside of my mask is cracked but the outside is exhaustingly perfect. “What If?” appears on both the inside and the outside of the mask. On the outside it simply tells the world I challenge the status quo. The inside empowers me to challenge my fears and anxieties. The reflection on this process affirmed its vast applications in the lives of young people.

Beyond art, people are extremely emotionally connected to music. We hear music and it brings up memories or feelings. Our conversation expanded in the second half of the class to include demonstrations and conversations of music therapy. Music therapy, contrastingly to art therapy, has both a performance component and a participation component. Both have practical applications in the lives of children. In hospital settings, we can use songs to better understand emotions children feel when they think about their hospital experience. We can use music as an anchor point for young people as well. We can introduce powerful musical tools to children in the hospital and when they are without a music therapist, they can employ the tools they learned. For example, a child undergoing regular procedures can learn a song that will make them understand the process and feel more comfortable. They may work with a music therapist to write and learn the song, but they can sing the song in the operation room without a music therapist.

Creativity is a common thread among all children. In fact, I believe it is a common thread among all people. As a society, we weed out creativity when we promote concrete productivity and scoff at creative expression. Children however have an innate desire to be creative in their play. This spark has not yet been extinguished. In response, it is our responsibility to support this spark and empower them to use the spark to take steps towards becoming their best selves.

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