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Drawing Activities for Adolescents in Counseling

author image Rachel Pancare
Rachel Pancare taught elementary school for seven years before moving into the K-12 publishing industry. Pancare holds a Master of Science in childhood education from Bank Street College and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Skidmore College.
Drawing Activities for Adolescents in Counseling
Drawing can help adolescents express feelings more freely. Photo Credit: Steve Mason/Valueline/Getty Images

Art can be a powerful form of therapy for adolescents in counseling. Through creative activities such as drawing, many teens feel more able to convey difficult thoughts and emotions they can't express in words. Drawing, in combination with other counseling techniques, can help adolescents process confusing feelings in their lives, heal from upsetting memories and learn to overcome hardship. In a "Western Journal of Medicine" article titled "Art Therapy with Adolescents," Shirley Riley explains that "Imagery taps into a person's earliest way of knowing and reacting to the world; therefore, it is not foreign to the experience of learning."

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Drawing Journal

A drawing journal allows a child to draw out her emotions. Drawings can include real life scenes and objects, or they can be more free and abstract. Allow children to explore different mediums. They can draw in color with markers, crayons or colored pencils, or they can use regular pencil or charcoal for black and white pictures. The journal can be used daily, during counseling sessions, or whenever needed. According to article titled "Art Therapy Helps Children to Express Themselves in Counseling," art activities such as drawing can help parents or counselors dissect and understand what is happening in a child's life.

Balloon Drawing

Not all drawings are meant to be kept, reviewed or assessed. One drawing activity that can benefit adolescents in counseling is releasing a piece of art that is associated with negative emotions. recommends this activity in the article "100 Excellent Art Therapy Exercises for Your Mind, Body, and Soul." A child can draw a picture that represents difficult emotions they are experiencing, including anger, fear, grief, shame or disappointment. The picture can then be attached to a balloon and released. Through this activity, an adolescent can feel a sense of freedom from their negative emotions by metaphorically letting go of them. It can be a way of healing from painful memories.

Relaxation Drawing

For many people, drawing is relaxing, especially when drawing for no particular reason or assignment. Adolescents in counseling can have a "free drawing" time during which they can draw while listening to their favorite music. You can offer a variety of materials such as finger paints, chalk or oil pastels. suggests relaxation drawing activities like drawing in the sand, drawing in the dark, scribble drawing and drawing outside. For adolescents who are experiencing a significant amount of stress or pressure in their lives, relaxation drawing can help them feel calmer and can bring a sense of peace to their otherwise chaotic lives.


Self-portraits can be an effective activity for gaining information about how an adolescent in counseling is feeling about herself. Self-portraiture can be a means of self-reflection and acceptance. offers many variations on this activity, such as drawing the self as an animal, a tree, a small child, an adult, or drawing the self as you think others see you. These types of drawings can provide adults with valuable information. They can help reveal an adolescent's state of mind and self image. They can also help children build self-confidence. For instance, a child could draw herself as a warrior or a superhero. Drawing the self can help an adolescent represent herself to others.

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