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Art Therapy for Survivors of Sexual Trauma

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Laura Bailey

on 18 February 2014

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Transcript of Art Therapy for Survivors of Sexual Trauma

Art Therapy in Sexual Abuse Recovery
5 Components of Trauma-Informed Expressive Arts Therapy
1. Uses a neurosequential approach to stabilize the body's responses
2. Identifies the body's reactions to stressful events/memories through trauma-informed evaluation and sensory-based activities
3. Responds to the body's trauma reactions through somatic and sensory approaches to self-regulation
4. Reinforces a sense of safety through reconnection with positive attachment and self-soothing
5. Builds strength by using the arts to normalize and enhance resilience
Adapted from Malchiodi, 2012
PTSD and Sexual Assault
From Pandora's Project: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder involves a pattern of symptoms that some individuals experience after a traumatic event such as sexual assault or prolonged sexual abuse.

One study indicated the following:
94% of women who were raped experienced PTSD symptoms within two weeks of the rape
Nine months after the rape, about 30% of women still reported PTSD patterns
The National Women's Study reported that almost 1/3 of all rape survivors experience PTSD at some point in their lives
The Clothesline Project
Started in Cape Cod, MA in 1990 to raise awareness around the issue of violence toward women
Has moved throughout the country to college campuses, community events, etc.
White: women who died because of violence
Yellow/beige: battered or assaulted women
Red/pink/orange: survivors of rape and sexual assault
Blue/green: survivors of incest and sexual abuse
Purple/lavender: women attacked because of their sexual orientation
Black: women attacked for political reasons
Art Therapy to Reduce PTSD Symptoms in Sexually Abused Children and Adolescents
Terry Pifalo is a group art therapist at the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children's Center of Charleston, SC, a multidisciplinary forensic treatment center for child victims of sexual abuse and their families. She conducted a four-year study examining the effectiveness of combining art therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy in treating victims of sexual abuse, aged 8-16 years.

The study provided preliminary evidence that the combined use of art therapy and CBT in group treatment of sexually abused children results in a reduction of PTSD symptoms.
"Art therapy is uniquely suited to promote basic goals of intervention involving cognition and problem-solving, and ventilation of affect. The use of image-based interventions such as creating containers to express and release powerful emotions, making maps to organize a coherent trauma narrative and set future goals, using multiple media to illustrate the photographic nature of traumatic memories, and graphically representing internal and external sources of support, provides and opportunity for traumatized children to express what they may not yet be able to verbalize." Pifalo, 2006


With the help of 39 partner agencies, the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children's Center provides comprehensive services to child victims and their families at no cost.
In 2010, 1,197 children received services at DNLCC
In 2010, 100% of children who completed treatment exhibited a decrease in trauma symptoms

The Women's Center, Inc.
Confidential, free services for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault in southern Illinois
Individual and group support, counseling and legal referrals
Narrative Art Therapy with Japanese Children
The Child Guidance Center and Educational Counseling Center is a treatment center for children with a range of emotional issues, including abuse- and neglect-induced PTSD
In addition to guilt and embarrassment about talking about their abuse, children may have to deal with cultural prohibition of sharing personal or family secrets
Storytelling can provide a rich, creative experience and can help to repair self-esteem.
Tanaka's Egg Drawing
Therapist draws an oval shape on a page
Client recognizes the shape as an egg
Therapist explains that something is about to be born; asks child to draw cracks on the egg
Therapist explains that this is a magic egg, and anything can emerge from it
Therapist provides a new sheet of paper, and asks the child to draw the fantasy creation after it has been born, along with pieces of the broken eggshell
The Knowles Center
Non-profit treatment center located in Winnipeg, Manitoba
Provides free treatment to children and teens ages 4-21 who have experienced sexual abuse
Survivor Theatre Project
Located in Cambridge, MA
Works to promote community dialogue around sexual violence and to instigate social change
Life Healing Center
Residential program for the treatment of emotional and psychological effects of trauma
Uses an integrative approach to heal the symptoms of unresolved trauma, including affective dysregulation, alienation, and dissociation
NMATA/OFFcenter Community Arts Project
In April of 2010, NMATA offered a series of events at OFFcenter to raise awareness around sexual violence, particularly in the military.
the end
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