Art Therapy

At UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco, Art Therapy services are offered to patients and families as part of the Child Life Creative Arts Program. Under the direction of art therapist Suzanne Yau, children are encouraged to use creative tools for self-expression in art groups and one-on-one sessions.

Art therapists are mental health professionals trained in both art and psychology. They work with children and adults of all ages using diverse art modalities for assessment and treatment. In a pediatric setting, art therapy focuses on the whole child and strives to support the healing process by offering patients and siblings a normal, developmentally appropriate activity for expression and engagement.

Art therapy is a natural form of expression for children and adolescents. Creating art helps people of all ages make sense of their thoughts and express their feelings in a non-threatening way. During art therapy sessions, patients are given the opportunity to make choices and gain control in an environment where they don't always have those options. Tapping into the creative process helps children, teens and their families work through the stresses of an illness and gives voice to unexpressed thoughts and emotions.

The goal of the art therapy program is to help children express themselves and to enhance their coping through the use of art media. Art therapists utilize art and the creative process to:

  • Build coping skills, confidence and self-esteem
  • Help patients process and express thoughts and feelings
  • Offer opportunities for choices and control
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Develop healthy problem-solving skills
  • Support rehabilitation therapy goals
  • Support and strengthen family bonds
  • Engage in an enjoyable, developmentally appropriate activity

Bedside Art Therapy

Bedside art therapy is provided on a referral basis. This means that if a doctor, nurse or other hospital staff notices a need, they can ask an art therapist to meet with the patient.

Group Art Therapy

Every week, patients and families come together and explore their creative interests through art. On Monday and Friday afternoons from 1 to 2:30 p.m., the Creative Arts Studio becomes an open art studio for group art sessions. Patients and families are given the opportunity to engage in creative projects that encourage the use of art making for coping and expression, for promoting mutual support and for encouraging dialog about hospitalization and shared experiences.

On Tuesday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m., art is facilitated in the Teen Lounge for patients and visitors age 13 and older. Art provides an additional way for teens to interact and socialize, while encouraging their individual self-expression.

Group Art Therapy Location

UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco
1975 Fourth St.
Creative Arts Studio — C-5431
San Francisco, CA 94158

Group Art Therapy Hours

Mondays and Fridays: 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m., C-5431
Tuesdays (Ages 13 and up only): 6 p.m. – 8 p.m., C-66441

Support the Art Program

To support the Art Therapy Program, please send your donation to the following address. Please specify "Art Therapy Program San Francisco" in your contribution.

Child Life Department
UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco
1975 Fourth St.
San Francisco, CA 94158

Thank you for supporting the Art Therapy Program. Your generosity greatly benefits our patients and families by providing much-needed supplies, resources and staffing.

Contact Information

Suzanne Yau:

Adult ARt Therapy
Art Cart