The Power of the Arts.
Visual Art is a form of expression that utilizes various art mediums
including paint, chalk, clay, tiles, and beads to create and express feelings
spontaneously, and is used to treat a variety of mental health issues including childhood trauma.
There are actually two separate benefits
to Visual Art. The first involves the
creation of the actual artwork itself and
the overall healing benefit in expressing
creative energy as a means to finding
personal fulfillment, emotional reparation,
recovery, and self-discovery. The second
aspect involves the interpretation of the
artwork. Through non-verbal communication, underlying thoughts
and feelings are conveyed within the artwork, thereby allowing the students to gain insight and judgment, and perhaps a better understanding of how they relate to the world around them. Inner exploration through the creative process has been clinically proven time and again to help people cope better with stress, work through traumatic experiences, increase cognitive abilities, and improve relationships with family and friends.
In fact, California Youth Authority institution
showed a 60-70% decrease in violence for those who participated in a community-based
Creative Writing utilizes the power of literature, storytelling,
and poetry to understand one’s self, thoughts, and emotions.
Fictional writing projects, journaling, poetry exercises, and storytelling help to extract harbored negative emotions, so they
can be dealt with and redirected positively. Metaphors, allegories, and symbolism offer insight into the mind,
and also provide a sense of safety to
express feelings that are typically
not easy to share. Groups projects
and peer-to-peer sharing further
enhance the healing aspect of
literature, fostering a greater sense
of self-esteem, social skills, and
In a dramatic shift, experts worldwide are turning to therapeutic creative arts and mindfulness programs as a means of healing trauma and opening doors to better coping skills. Leading psychologists often note a marked improvement in patients receiving creative art therapy compared to those in more traditional therapy sessions.
Yoga can be instrumental in instilling a higher self-concept and an attitude of inner discipline. It has become widely accepted in treating a variety of ailments in adults and children, both emotional and physical, including trauma.
Through various poses and postures, focus is directed from negative thoughts and emotions to peaceful, tranquil ones — giving the student an overall sense of well-being and balance. A combination of physical movement, progressive relaxation, deep breathing, visualization, and stretching all help to rebalance the internal energy, relieve stress,
and develop coping techniques
to be applied throughout
the student’s life.
Music as a means to treat trauma has been used for
centuries and has been proven to help young people with
communication, attention, motivation, and behavioral problems.
This powerful, non-threatening medium can be used to treat
everything from PTSD and cancer, to brain injuries and substance abuse problems. Clinical tests have shown music therapy to decrease aggression, lift depression, and improve negative behaviors. Through the process of playing and sharing music therapeutically, young
people especially show marked improvement in their self-esteem,
increased focus, enhanced social and listening skills, as well as
improved academic and cognitive function.
With Chip having found sanctuary in
the arts as a child, coupled with the
mindfulness and mentorship of Lisa,
the two embarked on a personal
mission to eradicate the notion that
children of troubled backgrounds are
defined by their surroundings and
destined to continue a cycle of
That’s when they launched the
St. Clair Butterfly Foundation's
innovative trauma model.
Revered for its healing value since ancient Egypt, Gardening is defined
by the American Horticultural Therapy Association as “a process utilizing
plants and horticultural activities to improve social, educational, psychological
and physical adjustment of persons thus improving their body, mind, and spirit.”
Young people seeking to overcome trauma have shown dramatic progress in their sense of self-esteem, personal capacity, and accomplishments
after being given the role as caregiver. The tranquil
setting of a garden has been shown in clinical
studies to be an important therapeutic venue
in which children and teens with deep emotional
wounds tend to be relieved of aggressive
behavior through activities such as digging
and planting, all the while becoming more
receptive to talking and working through their
problems as anxiety and tension dissipate through