How can art therapy help a child recover from abuse?

  • 23 November 2021

Little Alex had a very difficult start in life. In his first few years, violence was never very far away. He saw his father physically abusing his mother. Then, when he was just four years old, he witnessed a shocking knife crime in his own home. Alex did his best to cope with what he’d seen by blocking it out and trying to carry on as normal.

But it was obvious to his worried mum that, deep down inside, Alex was severely affected by what he had seen. He found it hard to leave her on school mornings and he hated to be left alone.

Luckily for Alex, his school referred him to Coram. We know how hard it can be for troubled children to talk about what they’ve been through – which is exactly why creative therapy is so important. By giving them a safe space where they can express their feelings creatively, without having to use words, we can help children like Alex come to terms with their past and find the strength to move on.

At first, Alex was very anxious about starting therapy. For him, it was something new and unknown. He would often refuse to come to his sessions. But we didn’t give up. The therapist spent time getting to know Alex in his classroom where he felt comfortable. After a few weeks, Alex had built up enough trust to get started.

In time, Alex was able to make even more progress. The difference all this care and attention made to Alex was quite simply amazing. That’s when the work really began. Little by little, week by week, Alex began to open up and deal with his most painful emotions. For instance, a painting he made that was a chaotic jumble of black and red told his therapist that Alex was processing some of his more painful experiences. It was a sign that he was heading in the right direction.

After one year, our therapists knew he’d healed enough to end his sessions. His teachers say he is now doing well at school, engaging with his work and focusing better in class. And his loving mum tells us:

He’s much more emotionally settled. He’s even started to play like he used to, enjoying the same innocent fun that he did before witnessing violence.

And the really wonderful thing is that Alex’s fantastic progress is not unusual.

More than nine out of ten parents whose children have taken part in creative therapy tell us that they can see huge improvements in their child’s happiness and wellbeing. Typically, children show a boost in confidence, better communication skills and increased concentration.

To put it simply, Coram’s Creative Therapies are giving vulnerable children the chance to overcome trauma and take the first vital steps on the road to a happy and healthy childhood.

So, it should be no surprise that this amazing service is in big demand. Right now, there are many more girls and boys like Alex on our waiting lists who desperately need the same loving care.

A gift from you today could help pay for art and music therapy where a child like Alex can learn to express himself and regain his confidence.

Case studies are real but names are changed and models used to protect confidentiality