By Erica Sklar
It wasn’t until Emily was expelled and placed in an alternative school that she got the help she needed. She had threatened people around her, but what she didn’t tell anyone is that after her father lost his job, he became abusive, and she was the target of his abuse. Then a therapist at her new school handed Emily Chill & Spill, our book for teenagers in crisis. At Art with Heart, we believe that all kids can turn pain into possibility.
Since 2002, we have created healing, therapeutic books that bring together the best in therapy with the best in illustration to help children in difficult circumstances. Our five books for children and teens blend cognitive-behavioral, narrative, and art therapy with social-emotional learning skills. By making beautiful, evidence-based workbooks, we help kids like Emily begin to understand the pain that they don’t have words for.
Through the creative expression exercises in the book, Emily was able to connect her drawing to the emotions she was feeling, allowing her to articulate her pain. Looking back, Emily says, “I was angry at people every day. And so I started doing bad things.”
Through the power of creative expression, Emily gained the self-awareness to identify her triggers and change her behavior. Not only did she return to her traditional school, she also helped her father identify his triggers and realize how much suffering he was causing. Long after she finished using the book in a therapeutic setting, Emily wrote in Chill & Spill every day. “It was my best friend,” she said.
If you’re interested in learning more about Art with Heart or finding out about our companion guides for adults, local training, or if you just want to say hello, we’d love to hear from you! You can find us at artwithheart.org, or on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.