If your parents are going through a divorce, there’s a good chance that it’s taking its toll on you. There’s a good chance that you’re feeling many emotions like anger, frustration, sadness, confusion, or fear. Sometimes it’s difficult to have to manage all these emotions, and it can be even more difficult to find a way to express them in words.
Art therapy is a tool you can use to work through your emotions. It’s a form of therapy that works with the images in your mind. At times, when the mind and heart is inflicted by heavy emotions and challenging thoughts, art is a way to easily and safely express what’s going on inside. Along with emotions and thoughts that are difficult to bear, you might even have images that show up in your mind. For example, you might have an image of what it might be like after your parents’ divorce, such as living with your father and what that might be like. Or you might have an image of living far from your friends, and this image might invoke sadness or anxiety.
Art therapy gives you a special opportunity. Instead of only talking out your concerns, you can:
- Express yourself in a different way
- Replace old images with new ones.
Expressing yourself through art activates a part of the brain different from the brain section required for language. The unconscious mind speaks mostly through images, symbols, dreams, and metaphor. Since art is made up of images, it can be a way to access this particular part of the brain. Talking your concerns out can also be therapeutic, yet at times, it can be necessary to reach for those deeply embedded images that might trigger uncomfortable feelings.
The field of neuroscience has begun to support the importance of imagery. Recent brain research has found that the part of the brain that is activated when an individual is using his or her imagination is the same part of the brain that is activated when he or she is actually doing that same activity. It has been discovered that the brain cannot tell the difference between imagination and what is real in one’s environment. Furthermore, drawing or creating an image through art is more powerful than only imagining an image, making lasting changes in the brain.
Art therapy is a tool to use to make it through the difficulties of your parents’ divorce. Research shows that children who experience a divorce suffer in their self-esteem, academic performance, peer relationships, behavior, and physical health. Anxiety and depression might also begin to develop. Suddenly, you might feel instability in the family structure. These are difficult experiences to go through, which can lead to finding unhealthy coping mechanisms like drug use or aggression.
Below is a list of unhealthy signs that children need help with the challenge of their parents getting divorced, and drugs can only make it worse:
- Academic problems
- Trouble sleeping
- Stress and worry
- Sadness or anger towards one or both parents
- Suicidal Ideation and perhaps attempts
- Having trouble with authority at school or with the police
- Trouble getting along with siblings, peers, and parents
- Getting involved with sexual activity
Art therapy is a healthy way to manage challenging circumstances. Of course, the process of making art also gives you the opportunity to express your thoughts and feelings. In fact, both the process itself as well as the images that are created have a therapeutic effect. The next time you feel the emotions stirring inside, pull out some paper, crayons, or paints if you have them. And simply draw out how you’re feeling.
Art therapy is so effective that there are psychologists and therapists who specialize in this therapeutic modality. Even if you’re not working with a therapist, drawing or painting out your inner images can be a therapeutic tool to use when you’re feeling the full range of emotions that comes with your parents’ separation.