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Supporting children's mental health and wellbeing
Supporting children's mental health and wellbeing

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4 Art therapy with refugee children

Creative art-based therapies are increasingly being used to help refugee children traumatised by the effects of conflict and crisis to express their feelings and narrate their own experiences (Tyrer and Fazel, 2014).

This is a drawing of a refugee camp using crayons.
Figure 5 Illustration by a Syrian refugee child – David Gross

As you heard from the counsellor in Activity 2 and elsewhere in the course, art materials and creative processes can allow children to come to terms with emotional conflicts, develop greater self-awareness and social skills and encourage more effective coping strategies. They can help to increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety and enable children to learn various problem-solving skills.

Can you also see how use of such materials and therapy with refugee children might help them feel a sense of control over their environment, and enable them to reform a sense of who they are after experiencing the multiple losses that you read about in Session 4?

A qualified art therapy is a more recent intervention in places like Lebanon. Here is a link to a news feature about some of the positive work that is being done with children and their parents there:

News Feature on use of art therapy in Lebanon [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] (make sure to open the link in a new tab/window)

You will notice how parents are being encouraged to mirror their child’s drawings as a way of becoming more attuned to what their children are attempting to express about the experiences they have had.