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The Creativity Queen

Art Therapy - Autism and Asperger's Syndrome

The work I've been doing as an Art Therapist began with Choice Theory via the Glasser Institute, empowering clients to identify behaviors and them make better choices. This resonates especially with adolescents whom are at a stage in their lives where they want more autonomy and freedom, yet may make inconsistent choices to meet their desired needs. Another aspect is the unhappiness that can come from not having the relationship you want with the important people in your life. Choice Theory became my foundation in Art Therapy. When I was introduced to Greenspan's model of Floor Time (and more recently RDI) I was thrilled that the foundation of development was built on the relationships and respect for the individual (where he/she is at).

Art is so congruent with this model. As an Art Therapist I join the child at their cognitive/social developmental level. The creative process of art making and creative play allows for a child to move into the psychosocial stage of industry vs. inferiority. During this period a child with ASD can use the creative process to develop competency and mastery, this allows for further development of their self-esteem and consequently increases relationship development. Moreover, the art materials allow the child to develop from a sensorimotor cognitive basis of organizing activities in relation to the environment into a representational system of art making that allows for symbols to represent people, places and events.

The creative process allows for the development of concrete operations needed to solve problem logically. By using art materials a child can express themselves and receive acceptance and support from an Art Therapist. By allowing the child to progress through the developmental stages with support, a child will create art that represents preoperational thinking and may move toward concrete, then abstract thinking. The art making process not only allows for cognitive and social development, but is also a excellent means to help increase language acquisition and relationship building. It is empowering for a child to create an image that reflects their feelings. With the support of an Art Therapist a child can use the art as a means of exploring their feelings, power and mastery, choice making and relationships.


Barbie Doll said...

i know this is an older post, but i hope you still get the comments!
I am an art therapy/MFT intern and i'm trying to learn more about how to integrate choice theory and reality therapy with art therapy (specifically for a presentation). Since you have experience with this, do you happen to know of some art therapist theorists who use choice theory/reality therapy?

Creativity Queen said...

Hi Barbie,

I don't know of any art therapists who have published articles on using CT & TH. I find it essential in the work I do. A chapter on this will be featured in the book Healing with Art and Soul from Cambridge Scholars Press due out in fall this year. If you want to pass some ideas by me my email is info@thecreativityqueen.com and we can chat more. All the best with your studies!