Emotional healing: Art & drama therapy for Syrian refugees

Over 4.8 million refugees have now fled Syria to neighbouring countries, and around 120,000 of those have made their way to the country in which we work. We want to support these individuals in any way we can. In 2016, we ran a Blossoms art & drama therapy workshop specifically for Syrian refugee women, to give them the tools to express their feelings, fears and thoughts in a safe environment. 

Having lost their homeland, homes and even their families, many refugees have severe psychological trauma which is largely going untreated. We welcomed 28 Syrian refugee women to participate in an emotional intelligence workshop - part of our Blossoms project to provide psychological training, art and media therapy to women to bring about emotional healing in a healthy and constructive way.

The first day of the workshop involved a talk on emotional intelligence, covering topics such as parenting and marriage styles, how to channel fear and anger in healthy ways, and how to challenge negative thought patterns. On the second day, the women participated in art and drama therapy, giving a safe environment for them to explore, address and deal with personal and societal difficulties like grief and anxiety. This included drama games, role-playing and using art to express feelings.

Many of the women had been through extremely traumatic experiences and carried a great sense of loss, yet our trainers found that the women felt great comfort and relief in drawing and acting out their feelings. Most of their paintings depicted a beautiful new Syria, where they could return to their homes and families once again.

I can understand myself now.”

”The thing I liked most was the drawing and the acting, as I could express my feelings easily.”

”I felt comfortable to talk and express all my feelings as there wasn’t judgement.
— Comments from participants

Some of the women had their children with them as they had nowhere else to leave them for the day. The children were able to participate in the art therapy too - they were so excited to hold colouring pencils as they hadn't seen them for such a long time! The women recommended that in the future we also run these workshops for children, as they had appreciated the chance to express themselves and their feelings. 

Please pray:

  • For the women and children who attended the course, that God would continue to use the experience to bring healing in their lives.
  • That we would be able to run more courses like this, as there is clearly a huge need for this kind of training.

Further reading: If you're interested in the use of art therapy with refugees, you may also enjoy this article on Al Jazeera on an artist who recently spent time with Syrian refugee children in Lebanon - it's unrelated to our work, but is a fascinating insight into how art therapy can be a powerful tool for change.