Therapeutic Form Drawing

Therapeutic form drawing is a way of making movement visible by exploring the many different ways, in which we can move a crayon or pen across space or paper or ‘take a line for a walk’ (Paul Klee). The drawing of lines, curves and shapes as ‘pictures’, without the pressure of having to be representational or symbolic, is a developmentally earlier form of figurative drawing. Instead of drawing a house or a person, the form drawing picture makes internally sensed movement and rhythms visible, so these inner experiences can be shared with the outside world. It is therefore a wonderful exercise for children, who have not yet entered the symbolic world, e.g. those with an autism diagnosis or other developmental delays, as it

  • makes imaginative use of repetition in order to create beautiful forms and purposeful rhythmic patterns,
  • has a strengthening effect on the development of a sense of self and mental structure by integrating bodily and mental-emotional experiences through rhythmic movement, hand-eye coordination and hand skills
  • has a calming effect as it stills the (hyper)activity of the lower limbs (legs), so the movement can be carried out mentally using hands and fingers in effortful ‘continuant activity’ (Geoffrey Waldon), which in turn
  • leads to more regular breathing, getting more oxygen to the brain, and therefore improved attention and mental, visuo-spatial and thinking capacities, thus stimulating the life force for children and adults of all ages

How to use Form Drawing as therapy with your child:

  1. have a drawing session EVERY DAY: start with just 1 paper/page or a few minutes, expand gradually
  2. Use big paper (A3) to begin with and wax crayons, so your child can really feel the movement in his arms and body. Stockmar Crayon Blocks are ideal to start with.
  3. don’t rush and take time to practice the same form with care for a week (or longer), adding small variations, e.g. colours, …
  4. pre-drawing practice: walk the form, feel it, trace it with your finger, draw it in the air with your arm, finger, nose, tongue, …
  5. do the forms slowly, drawing the patterns carefully to create something beautiful: like a visible melody on the page
  6. savour the movement and the beautiful forms like a delicious taste, but with your finger and eyes (instead of your mouth)
  7. feel the flow of the form and the movement of the line travelling along the paper
  8. feel how different colours make us feel differentland affect our state of mind

16 Key Strategies for DIRFloortime Play

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