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The Creativity Queen

Art Therapy and Social and Emotional Management

Lack of self-worth, social anxiety, personal boundary issues, and social inhibition have been linked to poor social competency. What other attachment factors influence psychosocial development?



Bacon and Richardson (2001) suggest that the impact of physical and sexual abuse effects a child’s development of secure attachments and may lead to insecure anxious attachment, dissociation, antisocial or offending behavior, disorganized attachment, or intergenerational cycles of insecure attachments. There is a suggestion that children who have suffered from traumatic experiences lack reflexivity and are unable to develop an understanding of their and other’s mental states. Therefore, it is suggested they do not develop a “theory of the mind” and lack the ability to understand social-emotional needs in themselves and others.

Moreover, it is suggested that a theory of the mind, an understanding of another’s thoughts and feelings, is necessary to develop social competence (Villianueva Badenes, Clemente Estevan, Garcia Bacete, 2000). A child who processes social information such as reading body language, other’s intentions, emotions, and cues are believed to be more socially adaptable. It is believed that exposure to sociocultural activities and experiences with peers and family helps the child develop a theory of mind. Arranz, Artamendi, Olabarrieta, & Martin (2002) suggest a multicausal developmental approach to explain family influence on theory of the mind development. Consideration of family factors such as siblings, birth order, family size, attachment to caregiver may influence theory of mind development. Arranz et al. ( 2002) suggest the influence of family context on cognitive development. This is based upon Vigotsky’s work linking social interactions with cognitive development.


Azar (2002) suggests the research on pretend play is associated with social development. It has been theorized that children develop a theory of mind between ages of three and five and creative play may assist child in understanding that thoughts influence actions and emotions. Does pretend play support thinking as another would before a child fully comprehends another’s thoughts? The use of playing roles allows a child to emulate what they see others do. For example playing mother to a doll the child may respond to the hungry baby by feeding it. This type of creative play allows children to put themselves in another person’s situation and respond as they would, suggesting a development of theory of the mind. Can a child utilize the creative art process to strengthen the understanding of social interactions? From the work I’ve done with children, especially those who exhibit inflexibility, poor relationship skills, and language delays I have noted the use of building and playing with clay characters allow for an increase in social interactions. Perhaps it allows for a psychological safety of playing out behaviors with a character, rather than self? Perhaps this is linked to pretend play, whereby a child may be open to a repertoire of responses that they are emulating and might not otherwise express? It is often via the use of creative play that these children increase flexibility and develop relationship skills.

1 comment:

Mind Body Shop said...

The vitality of thought is in adventure. Ideas won't keep. Something must be done about them.