• Giving a Voice, Healing Trauma: Exploring the Usefulness of Art Therapy with Refugee Children

      Lovell, Andy; Lowndes; Akthar, Zahra (University of Chester, 2017-10)
      Children who seek refuge to the United Kingdom have experienced a journey witnessing many traumatic events, separation and losses. These experiences can have a profound effect on a child’s well-being and resettlement in the host country. Art therapy is an avenue which can help these children to heal their trauma, and explore the feelings and changes that arise with becoming a refugee. This research set in an interpretive paradigm, informed by hermeneutic phenomenology explores the usefulness of art therapy with refugee children. It aims to investigate this enquiry through the lens of art therapists to gain insights from lived experiences and stories. Three semi-structured interviews were conducted, which were explored and analysed through using thematic analysis, which discovered five key themes these were identified as: (1) Giving Voice, (2) Rebuilding Trust, Opening Wounds, (3) Sharing Stories, Healing Pain, (4) Exploring Identity, Discovering New- Self, and (5) Understanding Art Therapy. Upon reflection, the four initial findings merged together highlighting the two key usefulness of art therapy, these were established as: (a) providing refugee children with a safe space to heal and discover new-self, and (b) giving refugee children a voice to express, and share their stories. Despite the last theme (understanding art therapy) being established as a limitation, this created an area for future research to help inform art therapy practice. From the findings discovered, it was concluded that art therapy is a useful form of psychotherapy for refugee children. Art therapy provides these children with a safe space to heal, and gives them a voice to express and be heard.