Children are often unable to verbalize thoughts and experiences and may harbour feelings of fear, guilt, anxiety, anger and depression.  Art Therapy provides a natural, safe, and non intrusive method to assist in recovery from common distressing events as well as major traumas such as death, divorce, illness, and accidents. Through art and play therapy children externalize their issues such as those involving family, friends and school, thereby reducing anxiety and behavioral reenactment.  Children often engage in art therapy in the company of their parents or family



Adolescence brings with it a multitude of developmental changes that may be impacted by family breakdown, traumatic experiences, and societal problems. In art therapy teens can express their rage, despair, and emptiness within a space that is gently facilitating and moves towards self-discovery and growth.  The creative process assists teens in developing a new relationship with inner Self.  It allows the teen to construct an identity, examine values and morals, question authority and plan for the future.   



Women have been socialized as caregivers for family and society, often at their own expense.  Research demonstrates that breast-cancer survivors have "caregiver syndrome" where their own needs have been ignored.  Many emotions are repressed such as anger, depression, frustration, guilt and longing.  Art Therapy provides introspection, soul-searching and evaluation.  Women are allowed to stop and assess their own goals and desires, to connect with passions and talents long ignored, and to finally sort out what they really want for themselves. This is the quest for wholeness, the inward journey.  

Common to women is mid-life crisis.  Menopause is a time of physical and emotional change, searching for wholeness, confronting one's own and other's mortality, and questioning one's Self identity. The changes that occur during mid-life can be enough to turn us inside out and upside down as well as provide us with new freedom and growth.  Art therapy can help women learn more about what they want and need, what they value and have neglected, and to let go of and grieve over the roles, beliefs, and parts of themselves that no longer fit.

Illness brings new challenges and perspective.  There is increasing scientific evidence that expressive arts increase immune system functioning and can be used as an adjunct in healing.  Within the intensity of the artmaking process, the pain suddenly disappears.

Women enjoy art therapy group experiences.  Through activities such as mask-making they are able to explore their inner Selves.



Couples are initially attracted to each other because of opposite skills, knowledge, and personality traits they admire.  The task in marriage is to learn from one another, sharing skills while maintaining a sense of individuality.  Power struggles are common and instead of sharing skills, partners find themselves in opposite corners.  The marriage can end in anger, confusion and divorce.  Spouses use images as a means of communication with each other in a safe, natural way, learning more about their relationship and problem-solving skills.


Children love to see their parents make art!  Family art therapy usually begins with an art therapy assessment of family functioning, progressing to examining and reorganizing family dynamics.

There is a sense of excitement and creativity when families do artmaking together within the counselling setting.  The process of producing images together and separately increased parent-child bonding and relationship.  Communication and parenting skills increase with new understandings and increased ability to problem-solve.

Family art therapy is especially useful in situations of death, divorce, illness, attachment problems, and separation through foster placement.   


There are many institutional and community program areas that can benefit from art therapy. Marilyn has experience in using art therapy within adult and adolescent correctional facilities, the mentally ill, foster placement programs, survivors of child sexual abuse, at-risk adolescents in high school, young adult commercial art program, group home for single parent mothers, health issues such as cancer, children with severe behavioural problems, and adults addicted to drugs and alcohol.

This encopretic child was able to externalize his fascination with feces through clay-work, increasing his bowel control at school and home.


Making art is a way of reaching those without a voice, those who choose not to speak, and those who have been so traumatized that they can only speak through images.  Art therapy is especially useful in working with people affected by post traumatic stress disorder such as survivors of war or child abuse.

 Pain is often a clue to the existence of deeper feelings.    

Art Therapy allows us to move into painful areas, transcend our protective barriers and defenses, and experience emotional and physical relief.


 Men are socialized to be doers and problem-solvers, leaving little room for vulnerability or seeking help.  Art Therapy provides a space for locating denied, repressed or hidden aspects of Self. Art therapists are expert at "holding the space" and "getting out of the way," allowing people to control their own expression through the space of silence, emptiness and transition. Within this space a shift in consciousness occurs, a shift that allows messages from our unconscious to come to the fore to tell us something.  Various characters are parts of our individual consciousness and appear as images.  The more chaos and ambiguity in our lives the more creative potential exists in the process.  

Through art therapy men can expand their creativity, gain greater awareness, and challenge life issues such as work, family and relationships.  


Something special happens in an art therapy groups.  People engaged in art making together enhance one another's sense of creativity, enjoying their own process as well as each other's.  Various objects are used in artmaking (stones, cloth, feathers, wood, glitter, paper, mask-making) to make a creative experience.  Creativity is healing.  

Part of the group experience is focusing on the images and sharing stories about them.  This generates new insights and change.  Paintings have stories to tell, feelings to express, complaints to make and endless communication.  Significant themes and concerns emerge. We begin to see things we had not noticed before, broadening our perspective. Participants learn from one another and gain a sense of caring and community.  Feelings of aloneness and isolation lift, stress and anxiety are reduced and there is a sense of renewed energy.  This canvas was produced by all group members contributing images that reflect the person.



Seniors enjoy art therapy group as it provides an opportunity to review their lives, sort out past difficulties, celebrate life events, and move towards wholeness.   The spiritual path is externalized through art therapy.


Members of the helping professions enjoy the benefit of an art therapy group experience as well as an orientation to the art therapy process.  Artmaking is an invaluable tool used by professionals in client work.  Post-session artmaking reduces vicarious traumatization common to counsellors, social workers, nurses, doctors, and other helping professionals.