Youth Bridge provides emergency shelter, counseling, and preventative services to more than 3,400 youth annually. With so many North Central and Northwest Arkansas youth in need of help, Youth Bridge depends on a variety of psychotherapy services such as art therapy to create a level of trust and accomplishment among clients
Art therapy uses materials such as paint, oil pastels, markers, clay or crayons as a means of self-expression. It is often a great solution for a teen that has been in a difficult situation such as divorce, abuse, or violence in the home or has struggled with an addiction or perhaps an eating disorder to communicate and identify thoughts and feelings about their different experiences and circumstances.
The artwork that is produced by the youth can help solve problems, reduce stress, build social skills and solve behavioral management problems all throughout the process of creating. Many students of art therapy often find that this helps give them a new sense of perspective on their situation. Therapists oftentimes use the artwork as part of their therapy and diagnoses of the patient.
Barbara Price Davis is a local Fayetteville Artist who worked with Youth Bridge for over six years to help boys recover from different emotional and behavioral issues.
“Art is very personal. I share with my students that anyone who creates a piece of art has to take responsibility for its outcome. Sometimes it turns-out good and the artist feels happy. Sometimes the finished piece is flawed and we have to talk about accepting our flaws and scars, instead of hiding them,” said Barbara.
“Everything I did was to help the boys create a vision for their future, and to help them realize the gifts and strengths they had that would help them after they went home. It always makes me happy when a former client looks me up on Facebook just to let me know how they are doing,” Barbara said.
Clinical art therapy can be effective for adolescents who usually see it as a nonthreatening form of treatment. The art that the adolescent produces can help the therapist gain some idea of the youth’s concerns and life circumstances, especially those situations that are too risky to reveal or too embarrassing to relate. This awareness better equips the therapist in efforts to protect and support the adolescent during this turbulent time of life.
Art programs can provide positive alternatives for youth considered at-risk. At risk youth can be found in all grade levels. They may have life circumstances beyond their control, may be yielding low grades, have excessive discipline referrals, or abundant absences. These children are at risk of academic failure and not graduating from high school. Additionally, they may be vulnerable to drug abuse, gang activity and violence.
Art programs are designed to provide an alternative to delinquent behavior and truancy, while promoting an improved attitude towards a scholastic environment. Our programs help participants learn how to express themselves in an appropriate non-violent manner. The learning and application of these skills can lead to less crime.
In addition, the results of clinically managed art therapy programs on average show an overall reduction with anger, anxiety, addictions, depression and other mental health disorders by 30 percent while showing an increase in self-esteem of 50 percent.
Art education is central to a youth’s individual and social development and nurtures a child’s overall development by strengthening academic performance and communication skills, teaching cooperation and team building skills, fostering an appreciation for cultural and ethnic diversity, teaching creative problem solving skills, building self-esteem and self-discipline, and deterring delinquent behavior and truancy problems.
For more information or to make a donation to Youth Bridge’s art therapy program, please call Nancy Hairston, Youth Bridge Development Director, 479.575.9471 or visit the web site www.youthbridge.com.