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The Role Art Therapy Plays in Shelters

Southwest Key Programs / Shelters  / The Role Art Therapy Plays in Shelters
Immigrant Youth's Artwork
“These methods allow the children to feel empowered, build skills, discover their strengths and foster resiliency.”

—By Jose Amparo, Assistant Director of Clinical Services

The arts play a helpful role in healing from and coping with trauma for the population we serve, by activating sensory states, reinforcing a sense of safety and serving as a method of self-soothing. Through many different outlets – music, painting, drawing, acting, dancing and more – children in our care can express themselves, communicate traumatic memories in a safe manner and continue their healing process.

Works of art made by minors in our care

Art also provides a channel for minors to connect with their culture, share their beliefs and values and explore new cultures in the U.S. Minors participating in art programs through Southwest Key have showcased a wide range of talents, including songwriting, sculpting, graphic design and choreography. By maintaining these creative outlets, children in our care can work through their own emotions and trauma in a personal medium that suits them best.

—By Jose Amparo, Assistant Director of Clinical Services

Jose is passionate about helping provide vulnerable people the tools to succeed, which is why he’s been in the mental health field since 2007. He currently serves as the Assistant Director of Clinical Services for Southwest Key Programs, but has held previous roles as a violence prevention specialist, a faith-based counselor, a prison counselor and as a professor of Family Studies. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LCC) and has his Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and his Master of Arts degree in Community Counseling from Northern Arizona University.  

This post is part of a series on art therapy in shelters, read further: Guitarists Shine at Special Performance and Camaraderie and Creativity through Cooking.