Darienite Mary Pellicci Hamilton, a psychotherapist specializing in childhood disorders and family issues, has launched a private practice associated with Dr. Eric Frazer, a forensic psychologist. Hamilton offers art therapy and play therapy as treatment approaches with children and adolescents.

Child therapist Hamilton has practiced art therapy for more than 10 years. Her clinical focus has mainly involved providing clinical treatment and assessments for childhood disorders and family issues including divorce adjustment, grief and loss and anxiety disorders. In her view, art therapy provides children with a natural therapeutic method of self-expression and discovery. Children are naturally attracted to art and drawing, she said.

Art Therapy meets children's developmental levels unlike traditional talk therapy which is limited to the child's verbal skills and abilities. Art Therapy also differs from traditional talk therapy since the practice of art making is used as a tool for symbolic communication.

"Art has a tremendous healing power and allows for true self-expression," Hamilton said.

This allows children to gain insight into their own behaviors and feelings through the creative therapies. Children create and experiment with art materials in a safe and contained therapeutic environment using metaphoric play to process feelings. Art therapy enriches language and facilitates nonverbal communication through the use of metaphors, images, and bridging connections through art, according to Hamilton.

Children communicate their wishes in play, art and even chatter. The drawing, sculpture, collage or paintings all have their own stories to tell and hold the keys to unlocking pain and conflict, Hamilton said. Through this process, children can discover and process their unconscious feelings and motivations. Insight is gained linking inner feelings to external behaviors.

As a divorce therapist for kids, Hamilton believes that art is a way of making sense of their chaotic worlds during the midst of parental separation and divorce. In addition to art therapy, Hamilton subscribes to additional evidence based treatments.

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Hamilton holds a Master's of Science degree in art therapy and is a licensed professional counselor and registered art therapist. Her education included formal study in Turin, Italy.

Offices are located in New Haven and Westport. The Westport practice offers flexible hours including weekends.