A recent article I read has reminded me of some work I did with the war children of Uganda and how the skills of art therapy I gained have enabled me to counsel client’s with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These kidnapped children witnessed horrific scenes of their family members being shot or butchered and then were forced to fight or raped. The lucky survivors were released and were expected to fit back into community life without any support. These children were traumatised and often were unable to talk about their experiences.
Our project found that these children were not ‘fitting back’ into the community, were becoming withdrawn and were having flashbacks of events they saw. Treatment and support in a small African village was limited, including the language barrier! We therefore focused on encouraging children to draw pictures of what they had seen. The pictures were harrowing to look at; however, they started to encourage the ‘war children’ to start talking and express their feelings. We also run small group therapy sessions with the children and their family members so the children could find the words of what they have suffered and enable them to share these experiences.
Transference of skills
I’ve been able to transfer these skills and experiences to my counselling work in the UK and as an integrative counsellor I use some of the techniques I picked up in Africa to work with PTSD clients.