The Red Pencil, a charity group that focuses on art therapy, visited a Syrian refugee camp in 2015 and spent two weeks helping children process their trauma through art. In Lebanon, a variety of non-governmental organisations use art to aid refugees, especially those who have experienced the horror of war directly. Learn more about the importance of art therapy in Singapore and around the world.
The Effects of Displacement
To thrive and grow, children need stability and regularity. For refugee children displaced by disaster or conflict, the trauma of losing a home, possessions, familiar surroundings, and possibly family members can be overwhelming. Without immediate care, these kids can suffer long-term damage to their emotional and mental health.
Violence Among Children
During one trip to a refugee camp in Lebanon, The Red Pencil founder Laurence Vandenborre was shocked at the violence she saw among the children. “If a kid had the ball and another child snatched it, sometimes, they would throw stones at each other,” she says. In an article from the Straits Times, she explained that the kids were acting out their anger and fear, turning their emotions on each other, and mimicking the violence they had seen from adults.
The Red Pencil
This type of emotional trauma is the reason why Mrs Vandeborre founded her charity The Red Pencil, back in 2011. Five members of her 2015 team were from Singapore, while the remaining six came from the U.S. and Australia. Mrs Vandeborre saw the pain being inflicted on families and children by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and she wanted to help with the healing process. She had seen the benefits of art therapy in Singapore and elsewhere, and she knew it could benefit these traumatised kids.
Art Therapy in the Refugee Camp
During their two-week stay at the camp in Lebanon, the volunteers and art therapists led art therapy activities that drew more than 200 teens and children. Some kids drew dramatic images of dead people, while others simply scribbled and ripped paper. A few chose to focus on positive images, such as rainbows and flowers.
Emotional Healing Through Art
Art therapist Valeria Koutmina, a member of the team, noticed a change in the children. “After working through the challenges, each child was able to produce at least one complete and coherent piece of art,” she says. “Over time, the creative process became much more organised, and less chaotic.”
Art Therapy in Singapore
While the charity takes frequent humanitarian trips to conduct art therapy workshops in other countries, The Red Pencil is also active in supporting good mental health in Singapore. Children in Singapore encounter trauma too, although it is of a different nature that the trauma of the Syrian children. Kids in Singapore may have families that are breaking up or may have suffered physical or sexual abuse. They may have gone through times of extreme stress or sadness due to school, a move, or the death of a loved one.
Do you know a child or teen who might benefit from some art therapy sessions? Contact Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic to find out how you can seek treatment and help from a skilled psychologist in Singapore.
News Feed from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic
Source: The Straits Times 4 Oct 2015