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Psycho-Social Awareness Program Session 2: Focusing on the Future with Art Therapy

In programs by Lauren Simcic

In the second session of our Psycho-Social Awareness program, we shifted focus toward art as a conduit for expressing emotion and experience. Children were asked to express the tough situations or painful memories from their past by drawing related illustrations on a paper. Students would later rip up their papers in an act of letting go of difficult memories and their burden.

The objectives of this activity were to help students in facing their painful memories and attempting to let go of them. Artistic expression is a tool that can be used to stop unsettling memories from becoming permanent, impacting their disposition and outlook on life. The process was intended to be cathartic and positive, encouraging that students leave behind the past in hope for a brighter future with new memories together.

How it Went

The activity session started by presenting the idea to the children, while starting to draw painful memories and experiences that they can’t forget. At a tender age our students have witnessed horrendous acts and experienced trauma as revealed by their artistic expressions.

Most children started to draw their bad experiences with passion, pushing their pens and pencils to drive out the negative feelings harbored deep down in their memories.

Two students struggled with the activity, not recognizing its purpose or feeling pressure to express something that felt deep or personal. Over time, the students came to see that their experiences were universal in some ways, but they were given the freedom of choice to simply watch rather than take part in drawing.

The rest of the children begun to draw what they’ve been through. Some drew children left bleeding on the street, with a tank and its shells beside them. Others drew vacated houses. Some of them drew airstrikes on houses and children. When the time allocated for the first drawing was up, the children stopped drawing after we’d evaluated their drawings that were full of their sincere emotion.

Teacher Naz explained that the objective behind drawing and recalling their awful experiences was to rip them apart, get rid of those painful memories for good. The activity served as a reminder that they’ve been given an opportunity to start a new life in which they will create happy new memories and that an promising future awaits them.

The students took hold of their drawings, gathered in one place, and together started ripping the drawings in symbolism of letting go of the bad memories they’ve held onto. They shouted and they were very excited. It was clear they felt that they were getting rid of the repressed negative feelings and experiences that were dwelling deep inside them, once and for all!

A Fresh Start

Later on, we presented the second part of the activity, which was about drawing a beautiful new beginning. All children participated in this activity with excitement and enthusiasm. Even reluctant Esra and Malik welcomed the idea and participated in drawing after they joined in with their peers, shouting and getting rid of their negative feelings.

When we started the second drawing the children demonstrated a drastic change in emotion from the session’s start. The students were collectively certain about the success of the idea. Their attitudes were very positive and they were feeling really happy.

The children drew beautiful nature, a shining sun and happy hearts in bright colors! The children went on drawing happily, and coloring comfortably in our workshop space. The session ended and students were excited to return again soon to Naz’s class.

Takeaway

As a whole, the art therapy activity was successful and it was a good introduction to the practice. Nad is excited to use elements of art therapy in future Psycho-Social Awareness sessions as the student response was positive. It is our hope that students remain openminded and will ultimately gain tools for coping through Naz’s guidance.


About the Author

Lauren Simcic

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Communications and Fundraising Coordinator

Collaborator

Naz Sağlam

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Turkish Program Coordinator

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Bashar Akaak

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Digital Communications and Information Strategist

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