The Power of Art Therapy for Young Survivors of Trauma

Sometimes the language of recovery is not expressed through words, but through rainbows….

I am working with a young survivor of trauma in my private practice. She has difficulty identifying and expressing feelings, managing emotions, and lacks the language/words for her complex internal world. Her reaction can be both unpredictable and explosive when she experiences negative emotions and stressful physical states (anxiety, fear, doubt, frustration, etc.,) and has never learned how to calm herself down when she becomes angry or overwhelmed. Due to the young age of her trauma, the world is seen as a dangerous place and she often “tunes out” (emotionally numbs) as a way of coping…and hiding.

Over time, art therapy has become her powerful second voice. She is able to safely share her thoughts, ideas, fears, anger, hopes, and so much more within this creative frame. The picture above is an example of how she learned to use color to identify her internal emotional world, especially when she does not have the words to do so. She made a “color box” where each color represents a feeling, both positive and negative. Also, her mom made her own color box (note: family members are also impacted when a loved one has been harmed). Colors, shapes, symbols, and rainbows have provided a safe space for her to communicate, heal, understand, and HOPE!

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