Art Therapy & Trauma
For information on children’s reactions to the trauma of war and terrorism, see “Trauma Happens, Children Draw” on Psychology Today Online: “In 2005, peace campaigners from Human Rights Watch provided crayons and paper to children in Darfur while on a humanitarian trip to the region. What happened next was not expected: the children communicated what they had seen with their own eyes through their drawings. They drew, often with frightening accuracy, pictures of murder, torture, and destruction, images few photojournalists had ever been able to capture on film. The images were so precise that the Darfur drawings of war they were submitted to the International Criminal Court last year to corroborate the attacks by Janjaweed militia against the Dafuri people. [Note: To learn more about the collection of drawings, visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum at http://www.ushmm.org/].
Not that long ago it was regularly suggested that it was better to forget than remember traumatic events and that children who witnessed violence would eventually stop thinking about their nightmarish memories. Fortunately, we now know the importance of acknowledging, validating, and, when needed, providing mental health intervention to help the smallest witnesses tell their stories. Creative acts, as simple as drawings, give young survivors a voice when silence is self-imposed or imposed by others.” Read more here…
Watch a film, “Smallest Witnesses: The Crisis in Darfur Through Children’s Eyes.” Participants discussed the images created by the children, and the impact the crisis has had on its youngest victims. The program featured Jemera Rone, Sudan Researcher, Human Rights Watch; Olivier Bercault, Emergencies Researcher, Human Rights Watch; Dr. Annie Sparrow, Third Millennium Fellow, Harvard University Researcher, Human Rights Watch; and moderator Jerry Fowler, Staff Director, Committee on Conscience, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
National Child Traumatic Stress Network Disaster Information. NCTSN has an extensive website; on this page you can find more information about children and all types of traumatic experiences. There are links for professional information, consumers, media, and educators, and multimedia presentations plus a knowledge bank.
Trauma-Informed Practice & Expressive Arts Therapy Institute. Learn more about the integration of creative arts and play, mind-body approaches, mindfulness and positive psychology in trauma intervention here.