Art Therapy and Healing

by Karen Toloza, MSW Intern 

Every day at SURVIVORS is a new opportunity to learn about and from our clients. During our monthly healing club, we help our clients learn new things about themselves and others. The Healing Club that was held last month was filled with a harmonious, positive energy that revolved around the creative expression of our clients. Our Senior Mental Health Clinician, Rachel, helped us channel our creative energy into creating mandalas. In Hindu and Buddhist traditions, mandalas are an object of meditation to aid in one’s spiritual development. The imagery depicts the universe and the symbols represent one’s spiritual journey, the cycles of life, and the interconnectedness of all living things. Through the coloring and designing of mandalas, we were able to utilize art therapy to aid in the healing process of our clients. One client said, ““I left some sections of my mandala blank because want it to represent looking at parts of my life from a clear head… [it] represents new life and moving forward.”

What is art therapy?

Art therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Art provides a language that is universal. Art is transformative and always has been. It’s a part of what makes us human, the ability to create and admire the beauty and the obstacles that we face. It is also a part of what helps us deal with that very world we admire.

Survivors of torture are often rendered speechless through what they have endured. They are often left with physical reminders of the torture on their bodies in the form of scars. They also will suffer from incessant headaches, insomnia and compounding health problems. Art-making provides tactile media in the form of crayons, paint, glue, paper which mirror the physicality of bodies and gives ‘voice’ to what cannot be communicated in words. As a client stated, “Coloring helps me forget everything I have going on in my life… I feel at peace.”

We're a healing resource to survivors of torture and their families without regard to race, religion, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, or economic or immigration status.

SURVIVORS can provide specialized care and support to empower you in your healing journey to become a self-sufficient and healthy member of your family and community. We are able to offer services to torture survivors and their families free of charge. Professional interpretation is available.

To find out if you qualify for services, please call us at 619-278-2400 to talk with an expert staff member.

Pro-Bono volunteer physicians perform medical evaluations for clients' asylum cases. Physicians write medical affidavits for attorneys to present in court, documenting that there is physical evidence of torture. Medical evaluations are always done in person, either at SURVIVORS' office or a secondary location. Interpreters are provided for this service. Applicant's medical licenses must be up to date.

Contractors accept clients for individual, couples or family therapy on a case-by-case basis. You choose your availability and create your own schedule. Therapy sessions may occur in your office setting in the community, Survivors’ office space, in-home, or via telemedicine. SURVIVORS provides compensation for your work. We will also provide professional interpreters to work with you.

You are not alone. We're here to help. We're a healing resource to survivors of torture and their families without regard to race, religion, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, or economic or legal status.

SURVIVORS can provide specialized care and support to empower you in your healing journey to become a self-sufficient and healthy member of your family and community. We are able to offer services to torture survivors and their families free of charge. Professional interpretation is available.

To find out if you qualify for services, please call us at 619-278-2400 to talk with an expert staff member.

PSYCHOTHERAPY SERVICES

SURVIVORS provides tailored individual, group, family, and couples therapy with licensed and licensed eligible mental health professionals throughout San Diego County.

MEDICAL SERVICES

SURVIVORS' provides support for Survivors with medical needs like finding a physician for general health care or connecting with a vision provider to receive glasses. 

PSYCHOTHERAPY

SURVIVORS provides tailored individual, group, family, and couples therapy with licensed and licensed eligible mental health professionals throughout San Diego County.

PSYCHIATRY

SURVIVORS’ psychiatric services include a thorough evaluation of clients and regular follow-ups by a psychiatrist.

PROFESSIONAL INTERPRETATION

SURVIVORS facilitates professional, trauma-informed interpretation so our clients can receive services in their native language or dialect to best support their healing process and care.

HEALING CLUB

SURVIVORS offers Healing Clubs to help counter torture survivor's feelings of shame, humiliation, and isolation. Activities have included art projects and nature walks.

AYSLUM SUPPORT

SURVIVORS coordinates medical affidavits and psychological evaluations to support our client's asylum cases. Medical and psychological evaluations are conducted by trained professional evaluators.

ASYLUM SUPPORT

SURVIVORS coordinates medical affidavits and psychological evaluations to support our client's asylum cases. Medical and psychological evaluations are conducted by trained professional evaluators.

CASE MANAGEMENT

Services to address essential needs such as food, clothing, and housing. We distribute blankets, backpacks and educational supplies, public transit passes, and hygiene items.

MEDICAL SERVICES

SURVIVORS' provides support for Survivors with medical needs like finding a physician for general health care or connecting with a vision provider to receive glasses. 

PSYCHIATRY

SURVIVORS’ psychiatric services include a thorough evaluation of clients and regular follow-ups by a psychiatrist.

HEALING CLUB

SURVIVORS offers Healing Clubs to help counter torture survivor's feelings of shame, humiliation, and isolation. Activities have included art projects and nature walks.

INTERPRETERS

SURVIVORS partners with professional, trauma-informed interpreters so our clients can receive services in their native language or dialect to best support their healing process and care.

CASE MANAGEMENT

Services to address essential needs such as food, clothing, and housing. We distribute blankets, backpacks and educational supplies, public transit passes, and hygiene items.