Art Therapy and Political Violence
Much has been learnt in recent years about the benefits that therapeutic work has to offer people who have lived through situations of political violence, have been tortured, imprisoned or displaced.  Nothing of course can compensate for the enormity of loss and trauma that many have experienced.  Reflective work is no substitute for practical support, such as primary healthcare, housing, welfare benefits, educational and occupational rehabilitation.

 


In this context, the purpose of art therapy
 is to provide a means of expression in the context of an experience which perhaps cannot yet be verbalised and is potentially overwhelming.  Through the art-making, the individual can begin to make meaning of events, emotions and experiences in his / her life in the presence of the therapist.


In addition, Art therapy can 

  • demand active participation of the individual, combating apathy, boredom and alienation
  • be a shared language, crossing other language barriers
  • allow for catharsis
  • encourage choice and decision-making
  • increase self-esteem
  • foster creativity, enablingdifferent responses to difficult situations
  • allow for insight-oriented work
  • allow for social and interpersonal learning

In addition to personal benefits, both social and group benefits spring from these.

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