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Teen Art Group for Sexual Abuse Survivors

by Katrina Clark, Advocacy Center Youth Educator

Art can be an incredibly powerful means of processing emotion. In some cases, exercising creativity can even transmute our painful experiences by giving us something we can look at & think, hey, I’m proud of the art that this horrible experience inspired! This opportunity to reframe our pain(s) by employing our creative agency can help us find a sense of control and expressive freedom that counteracts the felt-experience of helplessness characteristic of sexual abuse.

Furthermore, when the opportunity to create within a community arises, it can be particularly healing. This sense of connection works against the isolation that many trauma survivors experience. For these reasons, the importance of offering a youth art group became apparent.

Our teen art group was offered online while we were supporting survivors remotely, and then last fall our teen art group was able to be held in-person! Participants were provided with weekly prompts; including drawing one’s inner monsters & guardians, as well as making clay creations of what participants wanted to “mold into being” for their future. Group leaders drew great inspiration from the Internal Family Systems therapeutic framework, which focuses on the inner parts of oneself and their ultimate intention to protect us.

When asked what their favorite part(s) of attending group were, youth survivors noted the following:

“Putting my emotions into art. Seeing others with similar issues. The encouragement from everyone.”

“The projects, getting to know other kids, and putting feelings on paper.”

“Bringing people together and showing them that they are not alone.”

“The activities and the prompts!”

Our next Teen Art Group will run for six sessions starting on April 18. If you would like more information about this group, please contact Molly at

For information about Advocacy Center youth services, call our hotline at 607-277-5000.