We use art therapy with our clients because it is a safe, non-threatening and mostly non-verbal outlet for expressing what is going on inside. Art therapy is used to help our clients communicate, overcome stress, and explore different aspects of their personalities. In general, art therapy integrates psychotherapeutic techniques with the creative process, to improve mental health and well-being. We believe that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps adolescents to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, and increase self-esteem and self-awareness.
Expressing Anger in Art Therapy
Teenagers can have a significant amount of anger built up inside of themselves. Whether it’s from trauma, or just pushing against the boundaries that their parents have put in place, they can develop anger over feeling constrained or not listened to. This anger can then come out inappropriately either turned toward the people in their lives or can lead them to drugs and alcohol to cope with their feelings. This group gives participants an outlet to express those feelings through their creativity. In this way, they can release the pain they have inside of themselves through their artwork, which can be a freeing experience.
Adolescents experiencing emotionally charged and racing thoughts need additional help learning how to slow down and regulate their thinking. We use yoga poses to help our clients focus on their breath, strengthen their core and tone muscle, in order to become calm and centered internally. Clients will be led in yoga groups with a highly experienced instructor as part of their regular exercise program.
Meditation is the practice of concentrated focus upon a sound, object, visualization, the breath, movement, or attention itself, in order to increase awareness of the present moment; reduce stress; promote relaxation; and enhance personal and spiritual growth. Meditation benefits people with or without acute medical illness or stress. People who meditate regularly have been shown to feel less anxiety and depression. They also report that they experience more enjoyment and appreciation of life and that their relationships with others are improved.
The goal of group creative writing is to improve one’s own writing skills by listening to the works and suggestions of others in the group. This activity builds a sense of community and allows new writers to become accustomed to sharing their work without fear and enhancing their talent through the feedback of likeminded others.
Music Therapy is when music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. The music therapist provides the indicated treatment, including – creating, singing, moving/dancing to, and/or listening to music. Through musical involvement in the therapeutic context, clients’ abilities are strengthened and transferred to other areas of their lives. Music therapy also provides avenues for communication that can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves in words.
The media expressive group uses communication activities where the process involves a live presentation. During this presentation, clients directly participate using communication skills, with an emphasis on indigenous communication modes. Clients are encouraged to creatively express their thoughts and ideas in a positive and safe environment.
The comedy/improv group allows for a space that is free of judgment or fear of failure. This makes it an ideal environment for people who struggle with low self-esteem, social anxiety, or other types of anxiety disorders. The clients learn that when they practice comedy or improv it may either turn out better than they thought (in which case, they will hopefully feel less nervous or anxious the next time they perform), or if it does not go well, they will learn tools to help them cope with the disappointment. This process assists clients to re-frame thought patterns, and change behavior, in order to better anticipate the outcome and control their subsequent reactions in a manageable and healthy way.