All of the art created for this exhibit was created under the guidance of registered art therapists. Art therapy was used as the primary method for trauma treatment of these children and their families. Research has proven that art therapy is one of the most effective treatments for reduction in trauma symptoms including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress. Art therapy allows the creator to externalize the trauma in a contained, safe space. This provides empowerment, structure, process and closure.
The art therapy that was provided to the children and families of Renaissance Village was begun as an immediate action to help with the suffering. It was not envisioned as a research project. But the benefits are obvious in the stories. The therapy will continue as long as there are children in Renaissance Village and effort will be made to qualify and quantify the outcomes.
From the American Art Therapy Association, Inc.:
Art therapy is an established mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.
Art therapy integrates the fields of human development, visual art (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other art forms), and the creative process with models of counseling and psychotherapy. Art therapy is used with children, adolescents, adults, older adults, groups, and families to assess and treat the following: anxiety, depression, and other mental and emotional problems and disorders; mental illness; substance abuse and other addictions; family and relationship issues; abuse and domestic violence; social and emotional difficulties related to disability and illness; trauma and loss; physical, cognitive, and neurological problems; and psychosocial difficulties related to medical illness. Art therapy programs are found in a number of settings including hospitals, clinics, public and community agencies, wellness centers, educational institutions, businesses, and private practices.
Art therapists are masters level professionals who hold a degree in art therapy or a related field. Educational requirements include: theories of art therapy, counseling, and psychotherapy; ethics and standards of practice; assessment and evaluation; individual, group, and family techniques; human and creative development; multicultural issues; research methods; and practicum experiences in clinical, community, and/or other settings. Art therapists are skilled in the application of a variety of art modalities (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other media) for assessment and treatment.