A Waikanae art therapist who specialises in working with children said there is a lack of art therapy services available for youth in the district.

According to Kapiti Art Therapy founder Corinne Allan, she opened her business in August last year to help reach the more than 2000 children on the Ministry of Education's Early Childhood Intervention Service waiting list.

"I felt there was a real need in Kapiti for this service as all art therapists in Wellington who work with children aren't currently taking any new clients.

"Also, as I'm aware, schools have limited funding to support children with special needs."


Ms Allan said art therapy offered methods for parents wanting to steer their children away from the usual medications used for behavioural problems, such as Ritalin.

"Problems centred in the left side of the brain like Asperger's, ADD, dyslexia, dyscalculia and motor skills can be improved through art therapy.

"There's much neurological research done that shows we're increasing the right side of the brain through colour and visualising and using cognitive interaction.

"Problem-solving is a creative process and art is very beneficial to reduce stress and anxiety."

Having shifted to Kapiti from Switzerland in 2003 with her family, Ms Allan works on creative projects with children including the Worry Monster, which children feed their worries.

Other innovative tools include the family kingdom, where children create their own castle and discuss how it feels and what could be changed so everyone is happy.

After working with mentally and physically impaired children in Switzerland for four years, Ms Allan spent two years helping young men to finish school education, and counselling for integration back into society and work.

"With my sister, I opened a forest kindergarten in Switzerland, which is still running today, where we used nature pedagogic to empower children and to teach them new skills."

From there, she went on to work as an art therapist, dealing particularly with children.
"I've seen amazing results with children and I've had positive feedback from parents about how their child is coping much better in school."

According to the mother of three, who is fully qualified, she helps children to talk and recognise their feelings, as well to let go of negative experiences.

"Through my art therapy, children learn part of the kinesiology programme, breathing techniques, colour meditation and sensory techniques to reduce personal stress.

"I can see which colours children use to paint or are not using, and can see where the problem has manifested itself.

"I balance the child out with the opposite colour of his personal birth colour and use mindfulness techniques to improve mental, physical and emotional wellbeing."

As part of bookings, she listens to parents and writes a personal concept for each child.

"The child takes the art piece home and communicates with their parents or caregiver about what they worked on that day.

"This gives them a chance to express their feelings in a positive way."