Trauma & the Value of Art Therapy

 

The need for support and guidance does not end when a child is placed in an adoptive home. Agencies such as Boston Post Adoption Resources (BPAR), work to support families at this stage of the process and beyond. BPAR is a non-profit organization for anyone whose life has been touched by adoption; offering individual, family, and group therapy. They accept Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Tufts, and out of pocket payments. https://bpar.org/

 

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Adoption is a lifelong journey that comes with its own unique complications and challenges. These challenges are not pathological or abnormal but are actually quite typical in the adoption and post adoption process. In an effort to help continue the excellent work that MARE does, matching safe and loving families with children who need placements, Boston Post Adoption Resources, BPAR, is a small non-profit working to keep these placements intact and supported. BPAR provides therapy, support and resources to all individuals touched by adoption and also provides post adoption education and training to medical and mental health professionals, teachers and any other professionals working directly with children who have been adopted.

 

Many of the clients we see at BPAR have experienced some form of trauma and all have experienced a loss that they are trying to manage and heal from. For parents who are seeking support for their families or children it is very important to find an adoption competent therapist who understands the significant nuances of adoption. In addition, to providing treatment from an adoption competent lense, BPAR offers a variety of therapeutic interventions that can help children and adolescents process their adoption in a safer, more contained way, including play therapy, trauma-informed cognitive behavioral therapy and art therapy. With three art therapists on staff, we would like to highlight the value of art therapy as it relates to the post adoption world.

Art therapy is based on the idea that creative expression and the creative process aid in healing and serve as nonverbal means of communication. Creativity allows people to explore their emotions and beliefs without having to say a word. In this way it can be very safe and containing, especially for children and adolescents who have experienced trauma as a result of family separation, neglect or abuse. Through the use of metaphors, art therapy can provide the distance that clients need from their personal experiences in order to process safely. Perhaps the client’s worry can be made into worry dolls and placed in a box at night to help the client gain control over his or her overwhelming thoughts.

At BPAR common themes that arise in therapy include loss of control, grief, questions regarding identity, rejection and abandonment. These can feel overwhelming and difficult to talk about. The art therapist is trained in knowing the therapeutic value of each art medium and can suggest appropriate materials or interventions that help the client address these themes. For example if a child is having a difficult time talking about their concerns, he or she might feel safer drawing or painting their worries.

Many of the families we see struggle to communicate, leaving each person feeling unheard and misunderstood. In family therapy, art therapy techniques can assist families in learning how to share space, communicate without words, and allow each individual’s experience to be heard. It can also be a positive experience for the entire family to engage in together.

At BPAR we incorporate a variety of creative approaches into individual, family, and group therapy. We recognize that adoption is a lifelong journey and when clients enter therapy they will have different needs depending on where they are on their journey. Our goal is to provide the treatment approach that supports their current needs. We have found art therapy to be especially useful in providing a containing environment during vulnerable times. We see the benefits of art therapy on a daily basis through stress reduction, self exploration, and growth in self confidence. To learn more about BPAR and the services we offer please visit our website at www.bpar.org.

 

Written by Kelly DiBenedetto, LMHC, ATR

Clinical Director of Boston Post Adoption Resources

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