Art Therapy as a Medium for Treating Trauma in the Preschool Setting

“Art therapy is a specialised way of using the power of the creative process as a vehicle for healing, communication, self-expression and personal growth.”
Many Aboriginal children do not live ideal lives. It often goes unnoticed that even very young children have encountered trauma in their first few years of life. This may be due to separation, loss of a parent, poverty, alcohol-abuse, domestic violence.
Trauma interferes with learning and imagination. Survivors of childhood trauma have difficulty developing and maintaining relationships in adult life, may develop lifestyle diseases and often become trapped in the criminal justice system.
Art therapy is a specialised way of using the power of the creative process as a vehicle for healing, communication, self-expression and personal growth. Art is an accessible language that all kids love, unthreatening to parents and an integral part of Aboriginal culture.
Trial centres
The program will initially be trialled and researched at Tregear and Gunnedah to determine the value of art therapy in healing trauma in children.
An art therapy and child psychotherapists will join other specialists to develop an understanding of each child’s stories expressed through their art and also through discussions with parents. A central focus will be close observation for links to transgenerational transmission of trauma. Two specialists in Aboriginal trauma will direct and supervise the project. A specialist in Research will evaluate the program.
Implementation
The findings from the trial centres will be formulated into a fully evaluated state-wide program for preschool teachers in all our centres (Aboriginal preschools and community preschools with a large Aboriginal population). Teachers will be able to access the program through one-on-one or group training, and will be supported by professionals or volunteers and the Gunawirra Activities website (TrackingTheMilkyWay.com).
Gunawirra already has well-established links with many of these preschool centres and with elders in the community, which have developed through earlier programs. Over the past few years, Gunawirra have financed and designed the growing of gardens with bush tucker and fresh veggies in over 30 Aboriginal preschools in NSW, breakfast programs, sponsored places for preschool children, camps for mothers and children, weekly mentoring, the Inverell Strong-man Project, Quilting mothers Group and many more.

Project status: This project is being developed at present. More funding is sought.

Gunawirra thanks our sponsors for this project – The Healing Foundation of Australia