Therapy 101: Getting Your Child to Express Herself with Psychotherapy

I’ve mentioned before that Nadine is one very quiet girl. She is one of those well behaved, compliant and generally obedient kids that you see in the class, mall or library. With her learning disability, it is a challenge to figure out what she thinks or feels.

Recently, a friend recommended a Psychotherapist, and was confident that if Nadine starts sessions with her, it would help tremendously. This lady uses Art in her psychotherapy sessions. My initial response was, what is that? And I figured it must be one of those flaky profession that looks at art, and diagnose from the dark colours used, the child is depressed or if hard and angry strokes were used to depict the father, there’s some serious father & child issues we need to look into.

It was hard not to be skeptical. After all, we get tons of such psychology tests in Facebook. Have you seen the one that asks you if you see the Man’s Face first or the Cow? or the one that tests if you prefer a Pink Background or a Yellow one? Ohhh and those that ask about wearing your left shoe before the right one? (I came up with that myself!)

As you can see, I couldn’t understand how an Art Psychotherapist could help. Granted her art would probably be better than mine, but what can she do that I can’t? Hahaha… and that’s the core issue. How can it be that me, the parent, can’t draw my daughter out and you can with that bit of drawing and clay moulding? And you are just doing some interpretation for my girl’s art work? Bah!

But the recommendation came again, and I went to google. Her credentials were impressive, and she works closely with many government agencies and hospitals. After discussion with the husband, we decided to give it a shot. I am also desperate to know how Nadine thinks and feels, esp with so many things happening around her.


Nadine loves loves loves the Art sessions. Esther, the Art Psychotherapist was also not some flaky new age therapist. She was extremely down to earth, gave very accurate observations, and most importantly, she could get Nadine to express herself! You must know that Nadine is a HIGH ALERT for anyone assessing her. She has gone for more assessment than you and me put together, and she hates it. She’s capable of just clamming up, not saying a word or not participating in an activity if she senses there’s some form of test or assessment involved! Yet for this Art sessions, she is freed up and expresses herself most willingly.

She talks about it, or most of the time, she expresses it via the clay work / painting / sand play / drawing / Jigsaw making etc. With this, she’s really more freed up, and definitely happier. The improvements to her countenance and confidence is obvious enough for others to notice. (that is a great assurance to justify the money well-spent!)

The husband and I were so convinced that Esther’s therapy is effective that we recommended friends and relatives to try her out. We’ve had kids from 5 years old to tweens at 12 years old going, and all of them enjoyed her sessions. Some of them are kids with anger issues, or social insecurity, or going through divorce, or have trust issues. The needs were wide ranging, the personalities all differed, yet every one of them enjoyed themselves. In fact, most if not all chose to continue with further therapy sessions with Esther.

One fact that impressed me was Esther taking time to explain the outcomes to the parent. She would do it on a totally separate day, when the child is not around. And it would be a full hour session (sometimes even more) of telling us her observations and concerns. Through these sessions, she learnt that Nadine is not very close to Daddy. So she suggested for the next session, it would be Daddy & daughter project time. Through the time together, they worked on an art project, tackled trust and affirmation issues and it was awesome results. We could see her going to Daddy on her own accord more, voicing out her opinions with Daddy more confidently and volunteering to go with Daddy to run errands. It was great!

So is there a difference from regular art classes? Of Course! Here, it’s not about art. There’s no technique or medium to learn. It’s about the process, and the final product. It’s about what they talked about when doing the art piece. We really enjoy seeing her going for each session, and coming out happy and freed-up. We love it when we get a full observation feedback. (We all love the results part of each assessment!)

Art Pieces from Therapy

I’m now a big advocate for Art Psychotherapy. Apparently Esther doesn’t see kids only! She uses art to do marital counseling too! (it transcends all ages and all talents… but i think if she sees my art, she would be so frustrated!!)

Ohh and this is not a sponsored post. I just really believe that Art Psychotherapy helped my girl! We see Esther Ng at MySpace Psychotherapy and are more than happy to say it’s money well spent!

This is part of a series I’ve started – Ther­apy 101, to doc­u­ment Nadine’s devel­op­men­tal strug­gles and vic­to­ries, and to jour­nal my own learn­ing expe­ri­ences as she goes through hers.

Therapy 101


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