Where Language Fails: Art Therapy Can Succeed

Art is an important part of life. Through art we can tell stories, explore our inner world and express feelings that cannot be put into words. The combination of art and therapy allows traumatized people to find a way to handle their toughest experiences. That is why we promote a variety of artistic undertakings in many aspects of our work.

Creative Ways of Treating Trauma

Self-exploration and self-expression are important parts of the artistic creative processes and can be well integrated into trauma therapy. Our therapists use artistic expressions to talk to their patients about particularly serious issues such as sexualized violence or the traumatic loss of relatives. By drawing on their own feelings, our clients can overcome their speechlessness and take an active role in their recovery.

Art therapy is particularly appealing to children who like to take the opportunity to express themselves in creative ways. One example is of a boy who fled Syria. For weeks he didn’t speak and painted only black flowers, likely depicting his dark thoughts. Over several sessions, our staff encouraged him to use a broader color spectrum. Soon, he became livelier and began to speak, drawing new life. Painting, creating and playing gives children whom have experienced unimaginable trauma the chance to regain a piece of their lost childhood.

Art as an Ambassador of the Disenfranchised

Many of our clients use their artistic talents to make their experiences public. We exhibit their works at public events and use them for publications and campaigns.

Iraq has a long and rich history of artistic creation, that isn’t well-known in the western world. Therefore, we are happy to work with a number of local artists who support our work on an honorary basis. For many years we‘ve cooperated with the College of Art of the University of Sulaymaniyah as well as with galleries in the region. The art project “Coloring your Dreams”, which encouraged refugee children to draw their dreams and hopes is one of our recent collaborations.