Art can serve to connect the mind, emotions and body in beneficial ways. For children who have experienced traumatic injury or are facing the challenges of illness, art therapy allows them to express their feelings and make sense of their experiences. At UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals, the Child Life Services team offers art therapy for kids.

All of our art therapists are mental health professionals trained in both art and psychology. They work with children of all ages, using drawing, painting, ceramics and other media for assessment and treatment.

How art therapy supports health

Our art therapists use the creative process to:

  • Build kids' coping skills, confidence and self-esteem
  • Help patients process and express thoughts and feelings
  • Offer opportunities to make choices and feel control
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Develop healthy problem-solving skills
  • Support the goals of rehabilitation therapy
  • Support and strengthen family bonds
  • Enable engagement in enjoyable, developmentally appropriate activities

COVID-19 precautions

Please note that due to the coronavirus pandemic, the hours and availability of some resources have changed. For the most up-to-date information, please check the hospital's interactive closed-circuit TV channels or talk to a child life specialist.

UCSF art therapy programs

Group art therapy sessions are offered for children and their families and also for teens and their visitors. For days and hours in San Francisco, check the schedule posted outside the creative arts studio or the listing on our Kaleidoscope TV channel. In Oakland, check the hours posted outside the playroom.

For children who aren't mobile, bedside art therapy is available on a referral basis. This means that if a doctor, nurse or other care provider becomes aware of a need, that staff member can ask an art therapist to meet with the patient.

To support the art therapy program

Your generosity helps provide much-needed supplies, resources and staffing. If you're able to offer financial support, please send your donation to the address below. We ask that you specify "Art Therapy Program San Francisco" or "Art Therapy Program Oakland" when submitting your contribution.

UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals Foundation
P.O. Box 45339
San Francisco, CA 94145-0339