Our art therapy program serves roughly 40 children a week, four at a time. Each new arrival is assessed to determine where they are developmentally, what trauma they’ve experienced and how open they are to talking about it. We work in small groups to build trust and encourage children to feel safe opening up. We talk a lot about confidentiality. The kids learn that what’s said in the group stays there. And we don’t judge.
Trauma causes hyperarousal and fear. It also reduces the capacity to regulate feelings, make attachments, focus attention and deal with issues. Creating art helps externalize what’s happening inside, making it easier to share and talk about experiences. Kids can connect with each other as they look at a picture and say, “Oh, I’ve felt that way, too.” Art therapy helps children learn to process trauma, manage behavior, reduce anxiety and build self-esteem.