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Art therapy combines the benefits of creative expression and psychological support to enhance emotional well-being and healing of patients and families. Our dedicated team of trained art therapists works closely with children and families of all abilities, using various artistic mediums to help them express their thoughts, emotions and experiences throughout their hospital stay. Through painting, drawing, sculpting and other art forms, children can communicate and explore their feelings in a safe and supportive environment.

Meeting Your Child's Needs

During your child's inpatient stay, we tailor art therapy sessions to suit their needs, abilities and interests. Our art therapists collaborate closely with the medical team to ensure an integrated approach to care. Requesting art therapy during a hospital stay is easy, just ask your child life specialist, nurse, doctor or contact us directly.

Contact Information

For more information about Art Therapy with Creative and Therapeutic Art Services, please email us or call us at 202-476-3225.

Easing Your Child’s Health Journey with Art Therapy

Art therapy is a mental health profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families and communities through active artmaking, creative process, applied psychological theory and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.

According to the American Art Therapy Association (AATA), art therapy facilitated by a professional art therapist is used to improve cognitive and sensorimotor functions, foster self-esteem and self-awareness, cultivate emotional resilience, promote insight, enhance social skills, reduce and resolve conflicts and distress, and advance societal and ecological change. 

How Art Therapy Works

Through integrative methods, art therapy engages the mind, body and spirit in ways that are distinct from verbal articulation alone. Kinesthetic, sensory, perceptual and symbolic opportunities invite alternative modes of receptive and expressive communication, which can circumvent the limitations of language, according to AATA.

Art therapy:

  • Is about the creative process itself rather than the end product. You do not have to be a “good artist” or have art experience. Everyone is creative! 
  • Allows for non-verbal self-expression.
  • Empowers patients to make meaning and discoveries in their art and process themselves.
  • Enables art therapists to process art together through guided questions, conversation, dialoguing with the art, and exploring meaning through metaphor.
A young girl in a pink shirt carefully puts a bead on a string

Beads of Courage

We are members of Beads of Courage, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to improving the quality of life for children and teens coping with serious illness, their families, and the clinicians who care for them through our Arts-in-Medicine Program.

Artwork created at Children's National Hospital featuring colorful feathers in the shape of a bird's wings with text above that says "Hope is the Thing with Feathers."

Supporting the Art Therapy Program

We accept monetary and/or art supply donations from those who are interested in helping the Art Therapy Program at Children's National. If you would like to donate, please email us. Additionally, feel free to check out our Amazon Wish List for needed supplies.

Benefits of Art Therapy for Children


Emotional Expression

Stress Reduction


Social Interaction

Coping and Resilience

Creative Therapy Videos

Enjoy our video series, in which our former art therapists read books and provide activities for you and your child to do at home, to help your child express their feelings even when they aren't at a visit with us at Children's National.

Training and Education for Art Therapists

Art therapists are certified clinicians with master’s-level or higher counseling degrees who work with diverse populations in a variety of settings and communities. They work in hospitals, schools, veteran’s clinics, private practice, psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities, community clinics, crisis centers, forensic institutions and senior communities.

Art Therapist Requirements


Master’s Degree


Post-Graduation Training and Certification


Continuing Education

Popular Resources

Create More Art

Explore engaging art activities with Google Arts and Culture, or get grounded in the present moment while drawing a Zentangle.