Residential Treatment Facilities
Located in rural communities, Childhelp residential treatment facilities (known as villages) provide specialized, comprehensive treatment programs for court-referred, severely abused, neglected and at risk children. Typically, the children will have had a number of "failed" prior placements in the homes of their relatives, and in foster homes and group care facilities due to emotional and behavioral problems resulting from their severe abuse or neglect. The boys and girls represent various ethnic groups and receive individual, 24-hour care.
The staff of therapists, teachers, social workers and medical professionals provides a nurturing environment in which trust, self-esteem and healing can take root and grow. A combination of psychotherapy, education, art, music, animal-assisted, spiritual and recreation therapies are used. Children typically live at a Childhelp village between three months and two years. Then most of the children are able to succeed in less intensive settings. This includes transitioning to a Childhelp group or foster home, or returning to their parents or guardian.
Art and/or drawings themselves were the earliest form of communication between humans. Even during the most primal societies, picture representations of life existed. Humans have used symbols for centuries to make sense of the world they live in. Art therapy explores drawings by clients in an effort to assist the client in making sense of their past and present.
Art therapy as defined by professionals "is a form of psychotherapy which uses the creation of art or craft, to help release and explore the precise and personal images and metaphors which lie at the foundation of the personality, so that they can be explored and discussed within a therapeutic relationship (see the British Association of Art Therapists).
Art therapy has evolved as a therapeutic intervention with individuals in treatment since the early 1970's. Drawings are a vessel for individuals to express their dreams, fears, pain and fantasies. One of the advantages of art therapy is its ability to bypass verbal defenses developed over a life span. Another important advantage of art therapy is it requires little verbal communication. This makes it particularly useful with children, who do either do not have proficient verbal skills or have been penalized in some way for talking about their lives. Art therapy also works well with children who are savvy and/or long term foster care clients with built up defense mechanisms and dense emotional walls.
Art therapy begins with an assessment phase. The assessment phase gives critical information about the child's history and their perception of their world. Art therapy can also be used with individuals, families or groups. This makes art therapy extremely universal. Drawings during therapy can give indications on what areas the client has made progress in and what areas they still need to improve upon. Drawings at termination can give a clear picture of the overall progress the client has made during treatment for the benefit of client and those who care for them.
Art therapy is universal, non-threatening in nature and provides a wealth of information in a brief amount of time. It has the ability to help children heal even from the most traumatic of circumstances.