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This short article from LightWave studio for Art therapy & counseling.

Art Therapy and the Traumatised Child

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The following article was published in the June 2002 issue of the British Columbia Early Childhood Educators’ Newsletter.

Art Therapy and the Traumatised Child

Tara runs into my office. She is four and she is excited. She looks around as if she knows there is a purpose to being here. She sees the markers and immediately settles at the little table. At first she seems excited at seeing all the colours, but now she picks up only a pencil. It appears as if the blank piece of paper is a doorway to a strange world where things have a different shape and quality. She speaks in a low voice as she draws awkward figures, one after another. They would have been somewhat typical drawings of an average four-year old had they not all had heavy dark zigzag scratches in the middle area of their body. A monster had hurt them, she says.


When a child suffers trauma -be it physical, emotional, sexual or otherwise- her whole existence, her Self, is threatened. The impact of trauma is such that the mind becomes unable to keep the natural impulses under control. The fear of loss of Self as a result of trauma may be so great that the body reacts in the only way it knows how; it has to either fight or flee to survive the attack. In doing either – the running or the fighting- the child’s suffering is greater if the child feels alone Continued….

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