(INDIANAPOLIS) – Camp Atterbury is using the power of art to help Afghan refugees deal with what they’ve been through.
Art therapy is used for children and adults to process emotions which may be too overwhelming to express in words.
Eileen Misluk, director of the art therapy program at IUPUI’s Herron School of Art, says even immigrants who didn’t just flee a war zone often have fears about their new home, from how to get around to how their kids will adapt to a new culture.
Misluk says since a drawing or clay model doesn’t have to be expressed in a linear way, it can help a patient communicate that jumbled rush of feelings, and provide a pathway to further progress She recalls a patient drawing her eating disorder in a way that dwarfed her, then making a three-dimensional model and reflecting on how much smaller it seemed.
Even the colors or materials a patient chooses can make a difference. Misluk says colored pencils are more structured, while molding a clay model is looser and can help a patient to release body tension.
The Herron School has a therapist assigned to Camp Atterbury as part of the base’s mental health services for refugees. It’s not clear how many Afghans are taking part.