Over the past few months, Courage to Hope sponsored an art therapy program in Ukraine. Through this program, children who
have been victims of domestic violence were given a creative outlet to help them deal with the emotions and effects of their negative experiences. Therapists and a psychologist were able to diagnose and help the children involved.
16 sessions with art therapists
7 sessions with a psychologist
100+ pictures analyzed
Each week, the children and parents participated in art projects and other activities. These activities enabled the children to feel more comfortable and safe in their environment, and taught the parents how to better communicate with their children. The activities also enabled the therapists to assess the children’s needs.
Some of the activities included:
The art projects gave the children comfortable, creative outlets to express their feelings, fears, and dreams. One therapist stated, ‘[the
children] were not “afraid” of expressing themselves through art.’ The children molded playdough while talking about something that made them angry. They created feeling charts to help them more adequately express their emotions. They made puppets to role play and comic strips to depict life events. They made collages, stress balls, medicine wheels, and, most commonly, they painted pictures.
During the last session, each child framed his or her favorite picture and decorated the frame. Then they made a book
out of the rest of their paintings that they were able to take home.
The therapists facilitated discussions that accompanied each project. The children were encouraged to share their thoughts about when they felt afraid, safe, angry, happy, etc. They discussed the best ways to act in situations in which they have negative feelings. They talked about what effects their actions have on other people. Most importantly, the facilitators constantly reminded the children that they were in a safe place and they did not need to fear anymore.
As a result of these art therapy sessions, the psychologist diagnosed 22 of the 42 children as victims of domestic violence.
The parents that were involved also benefitted from the art therapy sessions. They learned how to better communicate with their children. They learned how to more calmly deal with their emotions and speak about domestic violence. One parent stated, “After meeting with the psychologist, now I know how to deal with
my child. I understand more his needs and will try my best to use this knowledge in the future.”
The psychologist said this of the entire experience:
During our art therapy sessions many goals were achieved and I could definitely say that the program is a great resource for children who are victims of the domestic violence. We have lots of children who are waiting to participate in the program and I hope we will find funds to support this program in the future.
At Courage to Hope, we are absolutely thrilled with the outcomes of this project and we are extremely grateful for the donations that made it possible. We hope to be able to continue to fund such projects in the future. We offer our heartfelt thanks to those of you who helped donate hope to the children of Ukraine.
For more in-depth information on art therapy, check out this article.