In this article, suggestions are made to use art to help children in school who have emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). EBD is defined as students who struggle with transient or chronic mental health issues. Visual arts used as a therapeutic agent is one approach that helps children with mental health issues. The incompetent social skills associated with students with emotional behavior disorders and autism spectrum disorders can’t be countered with activities in art therapy. Art therapy can easily be implemented in schools using few supplies it can also help facilitate active participation, helping students who are anti-social refocus on constructive activities, counseling with at-risk youth, helping to increase resilience, improving school engagement’ and reducing dropout rates. This article focused on two types of visual arts therapy: (1) art-in-therapy is defined as the creation of art as part of a psychotherapeutic process. (2) art-as-therapy is defined as the creation of art that is therapeutic all by itself without requiring any other psychotherapeutic or corrective influence. The purpose of this article was to make the distinction between the two types of art therapies and make 6 recommended activities that educators could use for art-as-therapy.
The title of the article made sense considering it made several suggestions on how to integrate visual arts into schools for students with emotional and behavioral disorders as well as other disabilities including but not limited to learning disabilities, developmental delays, physical, and other chronic medical issues. Art-in-therapy allows students to express their inner experiences or feelings decreasing their anxiety and psychological resistance all while they project unconscious thoughts, feelings in a safe controlled way without consequences. This type of art therapy, however, is not recommended or suggested as best suited for schools because school counselors and social workers don’t always have the required state licensing credentials to conduct psychotherapy that is used in conjunction with creating visual art in the art-in-therapy approach. In addition, there are specific guidelines set by the American School Counseling Association (ASCA) Ethical Standards that commands counseling be held within the boundaries of individual professional competence. School counselors must be able to distinctively distinguish the difference between art-in-therapy and art-as-therapy. Art-as-therapy is integrating visual arts as a therapeutic agent for children with EBD. Allowing students to create art without interpretation and involvement of a licensed psychotherapist may be therapeutic by itself. The process of creating visual art can be a momentous factor in reducing stress, anxiety, increasing wellness. It is also noted in the article that there are many psychological benefits of having Visual Arts integrated into school it is been proven to help improve children’s self-esteem, coherence, and social isolation.
The research in this article supports the idea that schools increasingly being urged to address the mental health needs of their students more and more. Art integration is important for students with EBD who often experience associated psychiatric conditions. IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) views counseling as a related service and traditionally medically necessary for diagnosis and evaluation purposes only. Additionally, some school counselors do not hold the required licenses to conduct psychotherapy. To provide all students with mental health needs the therapeutic approach needed schools could provide art-as-therapy. It is different from art-in-therapy because it does not require licensure, art-as-therapy gains its therapeutic value by allowing students to create visual art without the presence of a psychotherapist for the purpose of interventions or interpretations. This article discusses several ways for schools to incorporate art-as-therapy into school routines to assist students with EBD. The strategies recommended for art therapy included a focus on collaboration and research-based instructional strategies, providing students the opportunity to take breaks from the lesson to create art during the day, and the use of a technique called stifling often found in the creation of mandalas. Each art-as-therapy activity has a specific purpose, to positively affect the outcomes of students with emotional behavioral disorders by improving their resilience in school engagement and decreasing the dropout rates.