To be Seen, Heard and Accepted.Expressive Arts Therapy: a Public Health Offer for Unaccompanied Refugee Girls

Research regarding migration reveals that unaccompanied refugee minors often struggle with loneliness and finding their own identity. At the same time it is crucial for them to experience safety, affiliation and a sense of community in order to develop a healthy mental state and to master everyday life. Therefore, municipalities in the reception area have a great responsibility to provide this group with appropriate, health-promoting programs. This article discusses a video-analysis of an expressive arts therapist’s role in a group program offered for refugee girls by a local community. The focus of the discussion is on the emotional availability in the arts-related analogous approach where the therapist works with spontaneity, imagination, and creativity to obtain the perspective and cooperation of the client. The data leads to the hypothesis that this approach stimulates the creativity of refugee girls and helps them strengthen their mastery of social interaction. From a theoretical viewpoint the analysis is based on recent scientific research in the fields of infant developmental psychology, migration, and psychotherapy research, and the theory behind expressive arts therapy.