Emotional Regulation - a Creative Solution

Art Therapy can be a really good therapeutic option for children and adolescents who need help regulating their emotions.

Emotional regulation is a learnt skill that we begin developing in infancy but for a whole host of reasons we learn this skill at different rates and fine tune it again and again at various stages in life.

When emotional regulation is present children can tolerate disappointments and other minor stressors without becoming dysregulated. Many children and teens however find it challenging to regulate their emotions and unfortunately this can negatively affect their school work, friendships, family life and self-esteem.

Dysregulation can cause either hypo-arousal which results in a flattening of emotions or hyper-arousal which can appear like anxiety or behavioural meltdowns.

Art Therapy helps the body navigate its way from a place of constant emotional dysregulation towards emotional balance.

It has been demonstrated that art-making induces Alpha brainwaves which are associated with relaxation. There is also evidence that art-making reduces cortisol levels (stress hormones) in the body.

However a key factor for improving emotional regulation comes from the relational aspect of the therapy.

A child is supported by the Art Therapist as they put difficult feelings outside themselves onto paper. They can begin to see and know what they are feeling as opposed to acting out what they feel. Through this process they gain a sense of security by having their experiences seen and shared by the therapist. This internal sense of safety can have a wonderfully positive influence on their lives by reducing their sensitivity towards stress - helping them have other options other than dysregulation. 

If you would like to know more about Art Therapy and its role in emotional regulation please get in touch with your concern.