J. Sedfrey S. Santiago
Integrating Art Therapy In Disaster Response: Proposals And Possibilities
A survey of literature shows that art therapy is effective in addressing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among children who have survived disasters in the Southeast Asian region. This arises from the fact that art-making is a tool in helping survivors cope with trauma because of its connection to physical, somatic, and body-oriented treatment. And certain studies in the Peruvian context even show that the trauma suffered and eventually addressed through art therapy can be harnessed to achieve a child’s posttraumatic growth. Considering that children are among the sectors of society who are highly vulnerable to deaths and destruction wrought by disasters, whether natural or man-made, the proposal is to make art therapy as an integral part of disaster response especially in areas where there are no non-government organizations (NGOs) that focus on children (and which NGOS would normally be prompt in setting up child-friendly spaces). This proposal requires that there be competent and well-trained professionals who could handle art-therapy sessions in disaster settings; and this competence and training could be achieved through courses on art therapy in institutions of higher learning. A related proposal is to institutionalize partnerships between local government units (LGUs) and providers of art therapy workshops who are duly accredited by the LGU. Institutionalization of the partnership is for the purpose of ensuring orderly implementation of workshops; e.g., no overlaps of workshops that use divergent approaches, which could be confusing to the children. And the accreditation is to ensure that only legitimate art therapy providers are allowed to interact with the children, who are therefore protected from the threats of harm and exploitation by the unscrupulous.