Art As Therapy
What happens to little Black boys, who are taught to disregard their true feelings? Who do they become? What is the “inner child” and how is this all connected? The answers to these questions aren't easy to hear. Nor are they as one dimensional as we might imagine.
The “inner child” represents the emotionality and perceptions we learned as children that, if left un-engaged, we carry on as adults. For all Black children, our inner perceptions can be informed by a number of traumatic experiences. Despite this, African Americans overall are not likely to access mental health services, much less Black men. This creates a considerable challenge: On one hand Black men and boys are traumatized constantly. But on the other hand, we are not given emotional tools to transform that pain. We are taught masculine norms that do not support mental health. The consequence of this is evident: high rates of suicides, assaults, and gun violence around the country where young Black me consistently are targeted often by people who look just like them.
Art as Therapy is a discipline that utilizes the expressive power of art. It encourages self-expression through painting, drawing as well as other art forms to help reduce pain , stress, and anxiety in people by helping them to explore their emotions and feelings in a new, creative way. TRP has found that Art as Therapy has become particularly useful for the young Black men in OUR program because Art Therapy has been able to address the trauma indirectly through art making where our youth find it difficult to utilize talk therapy in front of their peers for fear of being judged to harshly for expressing themselves in an open setting. Traumatic experiences can affect us in different ways such as developing an inability to "vocalize" our hurt and pain. Art Therapy serves as a haven for expressing those emotions through the creative process. Art Therapy offers insight as a grounding tool for our youth to better understand their experiences and give them choices in those experiences .Using Art as Therapy in those sacred spaces to know what they are feeling helps build emotional endurance for when our young people are outside the therapy sessions. Art Therapy helps our youth to build a routine of checking in with how they are feeling.