Art therapy for mental health workers in areas affected by violence: a rarely explored resource

Experiences with survivors of extreme violence demonstrate that treatments that focus exclusively on verbal expression are often insufficient. Furthermore, evidence has shown that art therapy, as an initially non-verbal therapy, has an important role to play in the treatment of people from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. However, most of the evidence gathered to date is through work with refugees in the West. Therefore, this field report adds to the body of evidence through describing the application of art therapy, in daily practice, in areas affected by violence. The author, an art therapist from the Netherlands, has done trainings in art therapy, with trainees of over 35 nationalities and in 15 different post conflict areas. Participants were primarily unfamiliar with art therapy and are mental health workers. The author reports that use of art therapy techniques often resulted in surprising and stimulating effects on the level of commitment, and the development of insight, of the trainees.

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Meijer-Degen, Fiety