Drawing. Painting. Writing. Singing. Creating. Making.
The kids in our residential program bring a host of challenges with them when they first step foot on our Wooster campus. But they equally bring unique talents and passions that we hope will shine even brighter as they continue on their healing journey. Many of them utilize creative expression as an outlet for all they have seen, heard or experienced in their young lives.
Here’s a photo of a chalk drawing created by one of our talented teen residents.
Creativity is a beautiful part of humanity, and creative outlets, regardless of our ability, are important for all of us, but especially for individuals who have experienced trauma. Art is a way for children and adults alike to communicate feelings, to tell a story or to break from the present moment. Art therapy, a newer addition to traditional therapeutic approaches, gives hurting individuals a voice when they don’t yet have words.
According to the Art Therapy Credentials Board, “art therapy uses art media, the creative process and the resulting artwork as a therapeutic and healing process. Clients—young, old and in-between—are able to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem. Art therapists are trained in both art and therapy. The process isn’t an art lesson—it is grounded in the knowledge of human development, psychological theories and counseling techniques.”
Leah Mendez, residential art therapist at CCHO, says, “Art becomes a tool for me to find out where a child is at relationally and emotionally in a non-threatening way. Their artwork expresses pain, hope and other emotions about previous and current circumstances. It starts a dialogue about their needs and wishes for the future which we work through together.”
Leah utilizes the art therapy approach as part of intensive trauma therapy with our residential clients. Her research “Measuring Efficacy of Intensive Trauma Therapy Through an Attachment Potential Art Therapy Assessment” was recently recognized by the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) where she received the Gladys Agell Award for Excellence in Research at the 2018 annual conference.