Foster Care Youth Who Have Experienced Childhood Trauma Benefit More From Expressive Art Therapy Than Foster Care Youth Who Only Participate in Traditional Counseling
According to the 2016 Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), some circumstances where a child or adolescent is pulled out of a home and placed into the system include neglect, physical, and sexual abuse.
The use of art therapy practise varies and can be described on a continuum, ranging from using arts as an adjunct in verbal psychotherapy to art engagement without verbal analysis, and several gradations in between. Creative arts therapies used as a primary form of therapy requires graduate-level training in one or more modalities. Creative arts is also used by counsellors or other qualitied mental health professionals in facilitating different stages in psychotherapy. When using creative arts in this way as an adjunct, the key is to understand the various treatment goals and to carefully select creative arts activities that can support this process. Mental health professionals can be offered training in applying creative arts activities in psychotherapy, but at all times it is important to avoid challenging ethical boundaries by going beyond what someone was trained to do. Therefore, another explanation for our programme evaluation results may be that the circumstances of ongoing adversity are impeding the potential therapeutic benefits of the intervention. We also noticed that most trauma treatment studies in a developing context have focused solely on PTSD and internalizing symptoms as outcome measures. Perhaps other outcomes such as externalizing responses, but also resilience, self-confidence, and social support could be more relevant in a setting of poverty, hardships and crime and should be an essential focus in future studies.
With respect to research methodology, the qualitative data focused on the meaning-making process of the arts and healing, and examples were provided of how art-based programs can contribute to wellness. Qualitative studies that report individual and unique results through rich descriptions and data could complement the use of quantitative methods (Monti DA, Peterson C, 2006). Both are needed to understand creative engagement and health effects among generalized populations with unique individual differences.
More documented research with larger and diverse sample sizes is recommended in an effort to validate, strengthen, and obtain the due recognition the field deserves.
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