If you’re experiencing domestic violence, use this information to make a plan that works for you.
Making a splash – healing through art
Emerge’s innovate art therapy project goes from strength to strength and is assisting children from family violence and disadvantaged backgrounds to find their voice and regain a sense of self.
Whether it’s drawing, making collages, modelling with clay, experimenting with building materials, doing ink work or simply splashing paint across the page, children taking part in the weekly art therapy group relish the chance to explore new materials and have the freedom to work creatively.
This innovative project provides a safe space for the children to understand and express their feelings and experiences through art. Many of them come from broken or split families and lack a voice within their family unit.
Themes the children have worked on over the weeks include: ‘a safe space’; ‘having a voice and being listened to’; ‘my family home’; and ‘things I can do well.’ Facilitated by a qualified art therapist, the project has allowed the children to share and voice their concerns in a mutually supportive environment.
Working with ink has proved to be particularly popular with children experiencing symptoms of anxiety and obsessive compulsive traits; they have been able to open themselves to the limitless possibilities of creating flowing colours and watching them change in the drying process.
Developing improved painting and drawing skills has given the children a sense of pride in their work. Feedback from parents and participants also shows the children have gained increased levels of self-esteem and confidence. Moreover they regain a sense of control over their lives and develop strategies to use in difficult situations at home.
The mother of a ten-year-old girl reported that her daughter “handles her worries much better. She can explain what she would like, instead of just going to her room and dealing with a situation in her head.” Another mother commented that the art therapy classes have helped to calm her daughter. Teachers and parents have also noticed that the children have not only been able to let go of feelings of grief and anger but, importantly, have also been able to connect with feelings of joy and happiness.
Emerge is now seeking funding to expand the program to help more children from family violence and disadvantaged backgrounds to identify, voice and transform their experiences. Assisting these children to develop healthier interpersonal relationships is a proactive way of breaking inter-generational cycles of domestic violence.
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