Today I have invited a guest blogger, Kerith Glass a Child Psychologist and owner of Expressions Art Therapy in Haddonfield, New Jersey. As an NJ & PA Divorce Mediator one of my main concerns when Mediating couples through divorce is the well being of their children. Often times children that are younger can not verbalize what they are feeling. Art Therapy is a creative outlet for these children. I was invited to observe Kerith teach psychology majors, Art Therapy at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Observing the class and learning about Art Therapy was amazing. Kerith specializes in Autistic Children and has helped so many families through Art Therapy. Please read her blog below and visit her site at www.expressionsarttherapy.com
Children – Coping Strategies For Separation and Divorce
Children of all different ages cope with transition and change when their parents are going through a separation or divorce. Through changes in the overall family structure, and going from one parent home to another, children may tend to exhibit increased anxiety, depression, or frustration.
Art therapy strategies can aid children with these challenging transitions. Through the use of drawing, painting and sculpture, children may express more of their concerns and as a result have an easier time adjusting to the changes in their family’s structure. There are many different ways that art can be presented as an effective coping strategy. Two examples include a transitional object art project or an artwork journal.
A typical example of a transitional object is a toy car that children may bring with them when they have started a preschool program and are having a difficult time adjusting to being away from their parents. With art materials such as string, yarn, beads, or seeds, children can be encouraged to create a bracelet, anklet, or keychain that they can fit into their pocket, and can help soothe them as they make the transition from one parent home to another.
An art journal that both parents are comfortable with sending from one home to another can aid children in recording events that take place throughout their week. The children can draw, write, paint, or glue in images that mean something to them and create a record of their experiences that they can choose to share with their parents. Parents can also write words of encouragement that the children can take with them and view during times when their feelings are heightened.
Couples with children need to understand that through careful and well thought out planning, the impact of the divorce on the children can be lessened. Consideration to seeking counseling on how best to communicate the divorce to the children, establishing a parenting plan, family counseling are a few of the steps that parents can take to insure a smoother transition.