All clients participate in weekly art sessions as a form of non- verbal expression. Projects such as Mask-Making (focus: self-identity), “Hidden Voices: Childhood Trauma”, “The Thin Line Between Life and Death,” Mandalas (focus: peace, harmony, and connectivity), Missing Pieces, Heart box collages, “Stone Crazy” (intervention using stone and clay to mold images of self), and others are completed by clients, processed, and displayed. The benefits on expressive therapies are emphasized, allowing clients an avenue to communicate through non-verbal means. The art program is also utilized to provide an alternative coping strategy to deal with overwhelming emotions.
For adolescents who find it difficult to express their emotions due to childhood traumatic events (i.e., verbal/physical/emotional/sexual abuse; loss due to death, divorce/adoption; abandonment/neglect; witness to/victim of violent acts), painting in particular, can result in the physiological reduction of overwhelming emotions such as anxiety, hostility, anger, hopelessness, and sadness. For those who are self-injuring and impulsively coping with overwhelming emotions based on an intolerable, incontrollable situation from which they feel they cannot escape, reinforcing non-verbal art expression can regulate emotions in a healthy way.