Art therapy for children – what is it and how does it work?


What is art therapy for children?

Art therapy is a fast-growing field that combines psychotherapy with art media, providing comfort and hope to children facing a diverse range of challenges. It can sometimes be difficult for young children to express how they feel through emotions and words, and so art therapy provides an outlet for them to express themselves, as they tend to be naturally more artistic and creative, and they are likely to feel more comfortable expressing themselves with crayons and paints than with words. Art therapists help children visually express and record their experiences, perceptions, feelings and imagination. Through art therapy, which provides a unique opportunity for the use of non-verbal communication, thereby allowing the safe expression of feelings, the child/young person is supported to process traumatic experiences and to resolve inner conflicts.

How does art therapy work?

Art therapy works through non-verbal and sensory-based communication. Part of the reason it works so well is that it can be utilised for children who may not be able to articulate thoughts, sensations, emotions or perceptions. Also, for those children who have experienced abuse, art therapy is a way for them to express their thoughts without talking, if they are unable to speak about their experiences.  With the help of the therapist, children can decipher the meaning of their pictures and discuss the underlying issues that inspired their art. Art therapy can also help children relieve stress, increase their awareness of self, and develop healthy and effective coping skills for their issues. Art therapy helps to enable improved coping skills and judgment, a more integrated sense of self, increased self-awareness and acceptance, improved personal growth and insight and an increased ability to form healthier relationships.

The Wishing Well foundation

The Wishing Well was established in 2010 to offer children in out-of-home care, such as foster care and residential care, a range of healing and treatment options usually not accessible as a free therapy in mainstream health.

The Wishing Well raises funds to enable children and young people to access developmentally-appropriate and trauma-informed treatments shown to be highly effective in dealing with severe trauma and neglect. These therapies respond to the unique needs of each child and young person.

The Wishing Well is a not-for-profit incorporated charity organisation, established and managed by people seeking to improve outcomes for children and young people in out-of-home care and their families. The Wishing Well recognises the importance of the act of giving. We recognise the significance of the participation of community members and all donations are most appreciated.

The Wishing Well operates ethically, effectively and empathically with a view to achieving quality outcomes and a satisfying working environment.

Support the Wishing Well

The Wishing Well uses its funds to help children in need access developmentally-appropriate and trauma-informed treatments including art therapy. The Wishing Well takes referrals for any child/young person in out-of-home care in NSW.  Applications are assessed by qualified personnel and on a case-by-case basis.  The decision to fund an application is affected by the following:


  • Funding availability
  • The support the child/young person has to access the proposed therapies
  • The capacity and willingness of the Carer Household to support the child/young person
  • Assessment, which recommends and supports the proposed therapy as relevant to meeting the particular needs of the child/young person


The Wishing Well gratefully receives donations, funding and resources through bequests, corporate partnerships, fundraising events, grants, online donations and other fund raising activities. Money donated to The Wishing Well enables traumatised children access to healing therapies. Please see our website for more information:


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