Monday 14 October – 1st session
Today we did our first arts therapy session with a few older kids. Because we introduced ourselves last week the family knew us, so we hoped they would feel safe enough to tell their stories.
The group consisted of five children, one of them was the child headed of the family. The session found place in ‘The Miracle Theatre’, this is a big open aired theatre build as the half of an amphi theatre.
The session was about themselve and their identy .
Everyone got their own table, placed backwards so that no one could see each other and get influenced by the other paintings. The artistic session started out with a small story.
The story told the following: ‘’Imagine a gigantic forest. In this forest there are all different kind of trees, they all look very different from each other because they all have a different character. Just like every person has their own character, so do you. The way the trees look tells us exactly what their character is. Paint your tree which tells us the character you have.
For example: you are small because you feel a little insecure when you are standing in the middle of this big group. You also have a lot of oranges in your tree, because you want to be meaningful to other people, and you love to give. Also, you have many small branches, because you always have many ideas and thoughts. Think about your own character and what tree fits with that.’’
It worked out a little harder than we expected. The children (aged 9,12×2,14,16) were not able to speak and understand English as well as we thought they would. Luckily, Ruth was with us to translate the story and their questions. Although this has been very convenient, the session did not go as smoothly as wished. At the time the children started painting, they were very quiet and seemed in deep concentration. After 25 minutes or so, they finished their paintings. Because of the language barrier we decided to talk with the children one-by-one instead of having a group evaluation. Ruth was there to translate. We started the conversation with talking about the tree they made and why it looks how it looks. Soon we found out that the children had not understand the meaning of the assignment exactly. Most of the children made a tree that they liked, for example an orange tree, avocado tree or apple tree. Even though they did not really understand the assignment exactly, Bregje could still read some characteristics out of the paintings which she learned from her study. For example: When a child paints the roots of the tree, you could say the child feels grounded, which is a good thing. Also, the size of a tree tells us about the child, is it large and wide, or small and little? Is the tree filled with paint or is it empty? The feeling you get when you look at a person’s painting tells us a lot about the person feels itself.
– One girl told us about her tree that she made it very big and strong because she does not feel strong but she wants to be like her tree. After we talked about the painting, we talked about her family. She told us about her mother, she told us that she sometimes hits her on her legs with a belt, especially when she comes home late.
– The girl who made an avocado tree told us that she feels needed by other people, just like an avocado tree because everybody loves and needs avocado.
By doing this Art Therapy session, we were taught that we will have to keep the assignments simpler in the future. Although the children loved to paint and we spoke to all of them, the meaning of the assignment did not work out as wished. We will keep this in mind for the next session of Art Therapy.