ART THERAPY IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM: OUTLETS FOR NEW POSSIBILITIES
Leah C. Bell
April 30, 1998
Art therapy has been for the most part, well known as an adjunct form of treatment in the clinical settings such as in psychiatric hospitals and outpatient centers, focusing on mental and emotional disturbances. School based Art therapy has been demonstrated in educational settings for children and adolescents with physical, learning, behavioral, and emotional difficulties, usually outside the mainstream or away from the public school system. Art therapy in the public schools, though not a totally foreign idea, has not always been examined until recently. A focus on art therapy within the public school system can benefit for all students, not just those with considerably recognizable special needs, but any child or adolescent. It can also allow teachers, students, parents and administrators to gain awareness and exposure to art therapy and how it may play a role in helping one to enhance their life.
There is much development and growth which occurs between the grade school and adolescent years. This encompasses not only academic development and intellectual growth, but emotional, psychological, and social skills enhancement, as well. While schools have always focused on enhancing students’ academic and intellectual functioning, there seems to sometimes be a lack of concern for helping to enrich students’ psychological, emotional, and social functioning. Art therapy within the public school system may help students to become better aware of their inner feelings, thoughts, and concerns which may not be addressed in a typical classroom setting.
This is not to say that therapy should replace teaching, nor should it take first priority over academics. In fact, I believe that academics must remain the primary form of training skills taught in order for students to become thoroughly educated to gain knowledge and understanding in...