Category Archives: children

Art of healing Aesthetics and art therapy activities can help young offenders

Bangkok Post : Outlook

Art of healing

Aesthetics and art therapy activities can help young offenders gain a new lease on their lives


The assignment was to create a seal out of a lump of clay. But Pat, a 14-year-old boy, had decided to produce a family of seals. He made seals of different sizes: A big one in the centre, several medium-sized ones near it and some tiny seals on the back of the big, centre animal. “This big figure is the mother seal, and the rest are her children,” explained Pat, a crew-cut boy wearing the mandatory yellow T-shirt and navy-blue pants uniform.

!”Where is the father seal then?” asked a psychologist who was observing the art therapy process in action at the three-day special workshop held inside the compound of the Pathum Thani Provincial Court (Juvenile and Family Section). Pat grinned, “He ran away with another woman.” Chuckling, he looked at the questioner. “He is irresponsible.”


A lull followed as Pat continued perfecting his sculptures, while psychologists, social workers and court officials jotted down notes.

Pat’s answer may provide an important clue that could help authorities improve the process aimed at healing him and fellow detainees while they are in the remand home, so that, hopefully, they will never be sent here again.

Works from the art therapy process reveal and heal the inside worlds of young offenders _ their yearning for love and understanding, their lack of problem solving skills and hope for the new chapter of life.

!”The art therapy process helps uncover the complex nature of the youngsters’ hearts, where the problems lie,” said Sabine de Raaf, an art therapist from the Netherlands.

“Unless we are able to learn the roots of what brought them here to this detention centre, we cannot find ways to help them,” she added.

Sabine offered art therapy sessions to young offenders at the Pathum Thani Provincial Court (Juvenile and Family Section) during the five months that she was a volunteer teaching at Tridhakasa School.

!Young offenders and the crimes that they commit reflect social ills, said Kornkanya Suwanpanich, chief judge of the Pathum Thani Provincial Court (Juvenile and Family Section).

!”Most of these youngsters are from poor and broken families. Their parents and guardians are busy making ends meet, thus having little time for their kids to guide them through the maze of right and wrong,” she said. Many suffer from abuse by family members.

The other culprits, the chief judge pointed out, are consumerism values in society and irresponsible media.

The ability to handle the black marks on their pictures reflects the youngsters’ ability to deal with difficulties in real life.

In the left picture, the black mark is bolded and separated from other colours, while the right picture shows the ability of youngsters who can turn the black line into something funny, making it part of the whole picture.

!”Many young people steal because they want to be accepted in society. They want to have the brand-name cellphones and to wear the fashionable clothes splashed in the media and advertisements,” added Kornkanya.

The situation seems worsen every year.

Divorce rates and family-related lawsuits are on the rise. Last year, there were 915 new cases in the Juvenile and Family Court, 200 more than the number five years ago.

!The most common crimes that result in 10- to 18-year-old youths being sent to remand homes are theft, violent and brutal rows, sexual offences, online and Internet addiction, gambling, drug abuse and truancy.

Punishment is not the cure for the rising crime rate among the young.

“If we want to help these young offenders, we need to change our attitude,” said Usa Thanomphongphan, director and founder of Tridhaksa School, who initiated the art therapy project for youth in correctional institutes.

“There are no evil or bad people in this world. They are just weak people who cannot get through life’s temptations and challenges. They need empowerment.”

Sabine de Raff, art therapist from the Netherlands: “Art therapy provides processes to help us find our natural healing powers.”

“Humans are creative beings. We can always create and re-create our life. If people believe in their own potential, they can, and will, change for the better,” said Usa.

In a “give and take” activity, art therapist Sabine asked each of the boys to draw an outward spiral on a small sheet of paper and an inward spiral on another small sheet of paper. Then she asked them to write inside the first spiral what they wanted to give to the world and, inside the other spiral, what they want to receive from the world.

!The aggressive, ignorant-looking boys wrote almost in unison: “Love, warmth, hugging, caring, intimacy, happiness, flowers and sincerity” inside both spirals.

It is this evidence that convinces her that these boys can be healed and become good citizens in society.

“Art process activities help them to reach out with their hearts and feelings,” said Sabine.

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Art therapy project in Gaza massacre

– Art therapy project to ameliorate devastating psychological affects on children due to Gaza massacre

Art therapy project to ameliorate devastating psychological affects on children due to Gaza massacre

07.03.08 – 12:56

IImagemage Kristen Ess

Palestinian children are routinely subjected to scenes that no adult should have to witness and the psychological affects are devastating.

Insomnia, anemia from inability to eat, bed-wetting, stunted psychological development which continues to affect Palestinians later in life, fear of leaving the home, are just some of the issues mentioned by doctors in the southern Gaza Strip throughout years of interviews.

“Our children are facing fear, anxiety and tension after living through tragedy and violence, the scenes of death and destruction.”

Samih Abu Zackheh, the Director of the Center of Arts for the Palestinian Child, focuses on art therapy.

He describes the pictures that the children draw as having recurrent themes: tanks, warplanes, bulldozers uprooting trees, smoke rising from homes after missiles have hit, ambulances.

“These have become the dominant figures in the drawings of childhood.

He says that of utmost importance is to instill some sort of normalcy and routine into children’s lives, which is difficult under the best of circumstances under occupation. And after the recent spate of killings in Gaza, over 125 killed by Israeli forces in a week’s time, and with Israeli forces seriously impacting the rights of children, this is difficult, but crucial. Israeli forces also killed 20 school children in Gaza and two in the West Bank during the week.

To be happy, to play in the sun, to hold soccer matches without fear of being shot, as has been the case in Khan Younis Refugee Camp, are among the rights of children. Imprisoning chidren at 11 years old, opening fire on elementary schools, shooting children in the legs who throw stones at the Old City gate in Hebron, are all violations of the right to childhood.

In addition to the art therapy project, there is other work underway to find ways to provide direct psychological counseling to both child and parent, in order to help parents who are struggling with their own losses, guide their children through the ongoing tragedies.


Art and the children of Darfur

Using Crayons to Exorcise Katrina

September 17, 2007

Art Therapy – New York Times

Trinity Williams, a child displaced by Hurricane Katrina, works with Karla Leopold, an art therapist, above. At right, other work by children at a FEMA trailer park in Baker, La., shows that the trauma of the hurricane has influenced thoughts of home and safety.

BAKER, La., Sept. 16 — One of the most common images in children’s art is the house: a square, topped by a pointy roof, outfitted with doors and windows.

So Karla Leopold, an art therapist from California, was intrigued when she noticed that for many of the young victims of Hurricane Katrina, the house had morphed into a triangle.

“At first we thought it was a fluke, but we saw it repeatedly in children of all ages,” said Ms. Leopold, who with a team of therapists has made nine visits to Renaissance Village here, the largest trailer park for Katrina evacuees, to work with children. “Then we realized the internal schema of these children had changed. They weren’t drawing the house as a place of safety, they were drawing the roof.”

Countless articles and at least five major studies have focused on the lasting trauma experienced by Hurricane Katrina survivors, warning of anxiety, difficulty in school, even suicidal impulses. But few things illustrate the impact as effectively as the art that has come out of sessions under the large white tent that is the only community gathering spot at Renaissance Village, a gravel-covered former cow pasture with high truancy rates and little to occupy youngsters who do not know when, or if, they will return home. Even now the children’s drawings are populated by alligators, dead birds, helicopters and rescue boats. At a session in May one 8-year-old, Brittney Barbarin, drew a swimming pool full of squiggly black lines. Asked who was in the pool, she replied, “Snakes.”The drawings, photographs and sculptures, about 50 of which went on display Sunday at the New Orleans Museum of Art, are a good indicator of how children are coping, said Dr. Irwin Redlener, the co-founder of the Children’s Health Fund, which has provided mobile mental health clinics to some families along the Gulf Coast. The art also shows that the trauma did not end with the hurricane.
Continued here…

Art Therapy | Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture

Working with Children

The following is an extract from Art Therapy in Schools: Working with Children who have Experienced Political Violence and Torture; A Booklet for Teachers by MF therapists Debra Kalmanowitz (MA, RATh Arts Therapist) and Sheila Kasabova (MA Counselling Aspects in Teaching and Learning), who work with the Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Team.

The booklet, the product of a three-year project run by the MF in six primary schools and a secondary school in north London, helping children between the ages of eight and fourteen, was devised to inform teachers and other educational workers how art therapy works, and introduce them to the realities of torture and violence. To download the full document in PDF form, click here.

The Medical Foundation works specifically with children, adolescents and families who have experienced a high level of political violence, separation, loss and change. We recognise that the specific impact of these events are cumulative and often affect the child’s capacity to deal with new situations. The development of these children may be interfered with. Some children may find it difficult to move forward while others show uneven development.
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Teen puts her faith in power of art to good use

Teen of the Week:
Teen puts her faith in power of art to good use – Neighborhoods

Teen puts her faith in power of art to good use

By WENDI WINTERS  For The Capital

“Nice hair!” a boy called out admiringly as he passed “Emden,” better known as Emily Dennis, in the hallway of Southern High School.

“I colored my hair last night,” the Churchton teenager said casually, running fingers through her scarlet Louise Brooks bob. “Sometimes it’s other shades of red, or brown. I’ve dyed it blue and I’ve been a blonde, too.”

Touching the twin strands of fabric encircling her neck, she pointed out that the “necklaces” were made of strips of torn bandannas.

“I like to make my own jewelry,”

Emily said with a hint of pride. “I like beading and hemping, braiding straw.”

Her personal philosophy is: “I’m an individual walking around, open to new things and ready to share with others.”

Her father, Dennis, is vice president of Herman Stewart Construction, and Linda, her mother, is in human resources at Partners in Care, a Severna Park-based charity. Her younger sister Corinne, 14, is a freshman at Southern.

This is Emily’s fifth year at Southern. Southern Middle School was being renovated, and for several years its eighth-graders were housed at the high school.

She’s been accepted at Towson University and McDaniel College in
Westmister. Wherever she chooses to go, she plans to study art therapy.

a form of releasing emotions through materials like paint and clay,
channeling anger and depression into something constructive, rather
than something destructive,” she explained. She has seen how it helps.
“I didn’t want to be a commercial artist – I wanted to help people.
This is two things I love to do in one program.

“My goal is to teach art therapy to kids in a hospital – for now. My goals could change.”

Full story  here…

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Art therapy helps traumatized children

Art therapy helps traumatized children
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 31 (UPI) — Los Angeles students who have been
traumatized because of gang violence are being helped to gain their
emotional balance through art therapy.

Suzanne Silverstein, a registered art therapist, says art therapy
is one element of the “Share and Care Program” that serves 11 Los
Angeles unified schools. Group discussion is also used to address
emotional anxieties. The program’s main goal is to give children a
place to go to express their fears and anxieties, freeing them to learn
in the classroom.

Share and Care is a service of the Psychological Trauma Center, a
non-profit organization that meets mental-health needs of traumatized
elementary school students in disadvantaged areas.

“Psychological trauma of any kind affects a child’s ability to
concentrate and learn,” said Silverstein, president and co-founder of
the Psychological Trauma Center.

“By helping children begin to cope with the violence, fear and
sadness that are all too prevalent in their homes and neighborhoods, we
hope to improve their quality of life and help them achieve their
highest learning potential. We also hope to help break the cycle of
violence as students learn healthy forms of expression and avoid
striking back with more acts of violence.”

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