"Art therapy is the deliberate use of art-making to address psychological and emotional needs. Art therapy uses art media and the creative process to help in areas such as, but not limited to: fostering self-expression, enhancing coping skills, managing stress, and strengthening a sense of self."

--The Art Therapy Alliance



"We use the creative art process to facilitate personal well-being."

--Northern Ireland Group for Art as Therapy (NIGAT)


"Art Therapy is about using art as a tool for communication and through the therapeutic relationship, emotional, psychosocial and developmental needs are addressed with the intention of effecting lasting change."

--Hong Kong Association of Art Therapists (HKAAT)

Art Therapy and Disaster Relief

Art therapy is being used around the world for disaster relief, including natural disasters [hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis], man-made disasters, and war and terrorism. Watch a brief film, "Artful Response to Disaster," featuring the work of Canadian art and play therapist Medhi Naimi and images from Sri Lanka:




Children's Drawings and the Crisis in Darfur

When Trauma Happens, Children Draw. Words tell our stories, but art makes it possible to bear witness to them. For the children of Darfur, art became the unexpected vehicle for exposing the atrocities of violence, oppression, and genocide, breaking the silence through a visual vocabulary of war. In 2005, peace campaigners from Human Rights Watch provided crayons and paper to children in Darfur while on a humanitarian trip to the region. What happened next was not expected: the children communicated what they had seen with their own eyes through their drawings. Read more here...

Disaster Relief Resources: United States

SAMSHA's Mental Health Information Center. This is a comprehensive site for information on all aspects of disaster relief and mental health issues. It is an excellent resources for the latest links to organizations, groups, and programs related to mass trauma and disaster.

National Child Traumatic Stress Network Disaster Information. NCTSN has an extensive website; on this page you can find more information about children and natural disasters, relief operations, and other information. Links on this page will take you to additional web pages on terrorism and refugee and war zone trauma.

Disaster Relief Resources: International

The International Center to Heal Our Children. The ICHOC helps children nationwide, and internationally, heal from traumatic experiences and prepare to better cope with potential future events. Their vision is to foster, promote, and maintain the emotional health of children who have been psychologically traumatized by acts of violence, disasters or terrorism. You can find numerous downloadable resources on this website.

Books, Articles, and Other Resources

How to Help Children Recover from Trauma. "Hands-on Approaches to Helping Children Heal from Traumatic Events" is book by Lisa Diamond-Raab, MA, LPC, ATR-BC, CP, Paramjit Toor Joshi, MD, Shulamit Michal Lewin, MHS, and Shari Goddard Shambaugh, MA, AT; you can download sample page and the table of contents by going to this site.

National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children/Starr Commonwealth. Visit this webpage to find many downloadable resources on trauma intervention with children and families, information on sensory-based methods [drawing, art, play, and stress reduction], and research findings. You can also learn more about TLC/Starr's distance learning courses, too.

Mercy Corps. "What Happened to MY World: Helping Children Cope with Natural Disaster and Catastrophe" published by Mercy Corps is intended to help parents, and all those who work with families and children, during times of natural disaster. A copy of this book can be downloaded here.

Also, see Trauma Intervention and Art Therapy for additional information.

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