Art and Music: Expressions of the Heart and Mind

“Every bit of me is devoted to love and art. And I aspire to try to be a teacher to my young fans who feel just like I felt when I was younger. I just felt like a freak. I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m trying to liberate them, I want to free them of their fears and make them feel that they can make their own space in the world.” -Lady Gaga, Singer, Songwriter, and Actress

Self-expression can be difficult, especially for adolescents and teens. They may struggle with understanding their emotions and may have a difficult time communicating what is on their minds and in their hearts. Lady Gaga and other artists often felt as though they were misunderstood and turned to creative modes of expression to communicate. Troubled teens and adolescents dealing with issues like depression, anxiety, or other pressures may turn to alcohol or drug use to manage their feelings of isolation. They may feel like they do not belong or fit in. They may feel like they lack a purpose in life and are shutting off these feelings. For teenagers and adolescents struggling with expressing their problems, inner-thoughts, or emotions, they may be able to benefit from activities like art and music.

Art and music can help teens struggling with complex emotions to express what is going on inside of them. They may be unable to accurately express their feelings verbally and feel misunderstood when others attempt to help. Sometimes, despite our best efforts and willingness to communicate, we may not be able to reach our kids. Our kids may feel like we do not know how to help them or that we simply do not understand. Our kids may also be engaged in some type of therapeutic intervention and are still struggling to progress. They might benefit from finding a creative outlet to express their emotions.

Expressive Therapies for Teens

Behavior can be seen as a form of communicating our wants and needs. Troubled kids may be acting in self-destructive ways as a means of expressing their own inner turmoil. They may use problem behaviors, like suicidal ideation, drinking, drug use, or cutting, to express their inner pain if they feel misunderstood. They may be reaching out for attention, understanding, or validation in a negative and unhealthy manner. By introducing troubled teens to alternative modes of expression, they may begin to open up about what is going on inside. Art and music can also open up conversations and make things easier for parents to have difficult conversations with their kids.

Art and music allow us to find alternative means of getting our thoughts and emotions out into the world. For teenagers, these activities can allow them to put their own challenges into perspective and separate from their feelings. When we put our feelings and emotions out into the world, we can begin to see them more clearly. We can begin to understand that though negative thoughts may feel like they have control over us or our entire identity, they do not encompass our entire self. Teenagers may have a difficult time understanding the full spectrum of human emotion, especially if they feel depressed or anxious most of the time. They may identify with their darkest thoughts and feelings about the world. By letting these emotions out through creative expression, they can begin to separate themselves from their emotions.

Conversations About Emotions and Feelings

We may have a difficult time speaking with our kids about the things going on in their lives. We may feel that our kids do not share enough with us or that we want to learn more. When we appear to fail at connecting with our kids, we may need to try new strategies. Sometimes, we can use “props” to build communication and bridge the divide between us and our kids. Art and music can be therapeutic for two reasons: (1) helping with self-expression and (2) opening up a conversation. The first reason can help our kids learn about their own emotions and how to discuss them. The second reason can help us reach out to our kids.

Parents may struggle to communicate by asking direct questions, like “What’s going on?” or “How are you?” when their kid only offers limited answers. By engaging in activities, like discussing music, art, or movies with our kids, we might be able to open the dialogue to understanding. We can ask our kids about their favorite musicians or movies and learn more about them in a somewhat indirect way. By understanding what types of art or music our kids like, we can ask deeper questions, like “What do you like about these lyrics?” or “What do you think this painting is expressing?” Talking about common interests can be a way of opening the door to communicating with our kids in a less confrontational or direct manner.

Fire Mountain believes in the power of art and music with helping kids to foster communication between them and their parents. We use metaphors and imagery to discuss recovery and the journey of life. Creativity can help teens express themselves in ways they may otherwise struggle with. Kids may connect with their emotions better through art or music as they may not be able to fully communicate verbally about their innermost thoughts. We can connect with our kids by sharing an interest in the things they like, whether music, art, movies or even video games. Asking our kids about their interests can help open the door to deeper conversations about their inner lives. Call the staff at Fire Mountain today to learn ways to connect with your kids at (303) 443-3343. We are here to help both parents and kids.

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