Last winter, the Shelter Department created the Expressive Arts Group, an optional group that meets three Fridays a month and allows the Shelter residents an opportunity to explore their feelings through art.
The idea for the group started after Erika Fox, the Shelter Department’s Counseling Curriculum Coordinator, and her co-worker attended a training on Trauma Intervention. During the training, they learned ways to work with those who have experienced trauma in their lives. “A key element of working with youth who have experienced trauma is focusing on activities that will allow them to express themselves without words. Because when you experience trauma you have trouble accessing your ability to talk about your emotions, art allows you to express your feelings without having to talk about it or explain it,” Erika explained.
Since its inception, the group has focused on visual art, especially collages. “We’ve done a lot of collages and those have gone well because they aren’t intimidating for the youth. Since you do not need a lot of artistic talent, it’s a safe way to express yourself without feeling overwhelmed,” Erika explained. In the future, they are planning to do projects based around music, poetry, and even jewelry making. The young women who have attended the groups have really enjoyed the freedom the art projects have given them. Erika shared, “Sometimes it can be hard to get them to participate initially, but once they come they want to keep coming. They respond well to the groups and are really excited about what they create.”
*This name has been changed to protect confidentiality.