Art Therapy at Little Explorers
What is Art Therapy?
Art Therapy is a branch of psychology in which art is used to explore the internal world. The process of creating art is innately healing, and an art therapist can foster deeper understanding of one’s emotional experience. The art therapist supports their client in exploring their internal landscape through symbols, storytelling, and simply the act of creating. Anyone can benefit from this work, and artistic skill level is of no importance.
Children are obvious benefactors of this type of therapeutic work. They live in their own creative worlds, constantly learning, creating, and adapting. Art is a natural way for kids to communicate their needs, sometimes even before they have the language to verbalize it. It’s an outlet for big feelings, allowing those overwhelming emotions to be tangible and easily transformed before their eyes. It promotes self awareness, self confidence, trust in their bodies and emotions, and tools to self regulate and cope with intense situations and emotions. On top of that, infants and toddlers are inherently relational. The same way that an attuned parent can support the growth of their child’s brain and mind, a therapeutic relationship can too. Working together with families, Kelsey can support emotional repair and integration, and foster lifelong tools for healthy emotional regulation.
Why integrate art therapy into a school setting?
Integrating art therapy into the foundation of a school system is a more recent development, but has proven overwhelmingly positive. Kelsey has been lucky enough to previously work in a school that was at the forefront of these efforts in Colorado. When a student is struggling (academically, emotionally, socially), often schools are the first to recognize this. We have an in-depth understanding of each child, and we spend quality time with them already. Early intervention has shown immense benefits, and an early childhood classroom setting is an ideal safe environment for children to explore therapeutic support. Bringing art therapy into schools can shift the stigma of mental health support and lay a foundation for self awareness for the rest of your child’s life. On top of that, accessing mental health can seem like a huge hurdle for already overwhelmed families. The accessibility, affordability, and collaboration between multiple support systems for our students makes it an obvious path to pursue. We’re excited to be on the pioneering front of weaving art therapy into an early education setting, and to have the opportunity to create the most supportive environment for your children.
Kelsey Fatsi is our resident Art Therapist. She holds a Masters in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Art Therapy from Naropa University. Her undergraduate degree is in Art with a minor in Educational Psychology from the University of Miami. She has worked as an Art Therapist at Girls Athletic Leadership School in Denver, Colorado, facilitated groups for pregnancy and postpartum, used art as a healing resource with women and children survivors of sex trafficking in Cambodia, and spent many years teaching process-based art at Tinker Art Studio in Boulder, CO. Integrating the numerous benefits of art therapy into LEDS is an exciting journey, and aligns with the school’s foundation of curiosity, creativity, and child-led growth. It’s a natural outgrowth to incorporate mental health support in schools, and particularly in an early education setting. Children are actively building their foundations of what it means to be in their bodies, what it means to be in relationship with others, and what it means to be a part of our larger community and world.
Kelsey will utilize art therapy at LEDS in a few ways:
Explorative Art: Each class will have scheduled open studio time where they explore art and techniques with Kelsey as the facilitator. This will give students time to explore their creativity, work on social relationships with their classmates, and challenge themselves through an introduction to new techniques. Art can increase self confidence, autonomy, build attunement with emotions and needs, and encourage self exploration and expression. These sessions will not be directly therapy driven, but since art is innately healing we feel that this will be an important aspect of your child’s development at LEDS.
Regulation support: Almost every child has a moment, phase, or transition in which they could use extra support from an adult. Kelsey will be our go-to person for these moments. If a child is physically or emotionally dysregulated, she will take the student to a safe space where they can access tools for recentering. She’ll offer sensory tools and activities in a separate space, process the event with the child, and then escort them back to class as soon as they are ready. The goal for this type of support is to be quick and efficient. Teachers often have to take on this role while still keeping tabs on the rest of the class, so having Kelsey available for these intense moments will create a safer and more supportive environment for all students and teachers alike. She’ll also be available to facilitate social disagreements between students to model and teach effective and empathic communication.
Individual therapy sessions: If it is made evident that a student requires more intensive support, Kelsey will be available for individual art therapy sessions. These will be at an additional cost to tuition, and will only begin after consultation and consent with the child’s parents or guardians. A child can be referred for these individual sessions by their family or guardian, by a teacher, or the child can request individual sessions themselves. These will be considered on a case by case basis, and open and clear communication will be prioritized. Individual art therapy sessions will happen both during school hours and after hours on a case by case basis. Individual therapy can be hard to come by for young children, particularly with all of the intensity and anxiety that has increased for children during the pandemic. We hope that by opening up these services through our school, our families can breathe easier and feel fully supported.
Child Art Therapy: How It Works
What is Art Therapy? How can it help?
Journey through Art Therapy - a fun short animation that conveys the essence of art therapy sessions: