Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Foster Children

I work with many children who are removed from their homes and placed in foster care. For most of them this is a traumatic experience. I know how difficult it is for most of us to make transitions, move to new homes or countries. Building new connections takes time, love and energy.  From attachment theory studies we know that if a child can connect to one person, then that child can grow and have connections with other important people in his or her life.

But how do we help with transitions and creating new healthy attachments? I have a new helper in my Art Therapy Studio. I had fallen in love with Denise’s work and I wanted one of her creations to live with me and help me with my therapy work. But how could I help Tiny Blessed make to transition from Australia to Canada?
Tiny Blessed arriving in the mail.

First, it was good that her maker and I already had a connection. We are blogging friends.  To know that Denise already liked and trusted me helped Tiny Blessed trust me. She had to travel a long distance, so, when she arrived I made sure she was comfortable and settled her into a soft warm place with the objects that Denise had packed with her. I knew that Tiny Blessed would need those objects to help her make the transition to her new surroundings. Tiny Blessed would need time to become accustomed to the new odours, sights, noises and voices in my Art Therapy Studio. I was hoping that she would want to help with children that I work with like some of my other stuffed creatures and dolls do, but first she needed time to settle in.
Tiny Blessed and her transitional objects.


All children in transition need to have freedom to look around and find their place. Tiny Blessed tried the dollhouse, several chairs, and the doll shelf. Of course I showed her all the rooms. I slowly and gently talked about the other toys, where they came from and watched her body language to see when and if she was getting overwhelmed or excited. 








Routine helps my children feel safe and grounded in my Art Therapy Studio and it also helped Tiny Blessed. She slowly started making appearances in the Art Therapy Studio. The separation and reunion process is usually highly individual. Tiny Blessed likes to sleep in the hug chair and she likes to be in the art studio when the children start arriving. She has already been held by a few of the children, and I think she likes them. Because she doesn’t use words to talk, I have to read her energy and body language to notice when she feels relaxed, comfortable or needs something. She has already connected with a few of my nonverbal clients and I think she is excited that she has a job here.
Tiny Blessed experiencing snow.
                                                                                                  
She was fascinated with Canadian snow and has had a few visits outside. I think she is transitioning well. I feel she likes the idea of being a co-therapist, she already has made some close friends and she likes her new home. Thanks Denise. I will probably be writing you about one of her sisters coming here.

11 comments:

Carole said...

How sweet is Tiny Blessed wanting to work with the kids. Denise's work is lovely. Cute post.

Karen Wallace said...

Thanks Carole.

The Creative Beast said...

What a lovely and creative way to address the needs of foster children! Transitions are hard for all of us, but more so for children who are no longer grounded with family members. If only we could all have a "Tiny Blessed" to help us with our transitions =-)


Thank you for this beautiful and charming post Karen and thank you for pointing the way to Denise and her work! I'm looking at some darlings to travel to my creative space now =-)

Nancy said...

Such a sensitive post. The children you work with must be mighty lucky.

grrl + dog said...

awww!

I have tears in my eyes.. this is exactly the role they were made for.
we need to send her a sister. Let me see over the weekend who wants to go to be a co therapist.

I'll be in touch.

Ro Bruhn said...

I also have one of these one of these beautiful treasures, she resides over my studio and keeps the creative juices flowing. Thanks for commenting on my blog too.

Elena said...

Oh love this post and Tiny Blessed and that card behind her are too cool. Bless you for the work you do Karen!

liz beck said...

Hey! Just stopping by to let you know that I enjoyed your post...shared it with my art therapy community on fb and tw :)

Love it!

MosaicMagpie said...

This has touched my heart, I will be looking for a similar agency located near me to see if they are interested in having some little angels around.
Deb

Eryl said...

I came over from Denise, what a wonderful post! It's so nice to be shown that art does actually help people, and to see it put to practical use. As an artist I feel this to be so, but can rarely give concrete examples when challenged by the "we should be spending the money on improving the bus service/public toilets/roads" brigade.

Jan Morrison said...

I came over from Denise's. This is a lovely site. As a fellow Canuck and therapist I doubly appreciate what you're doing!

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Karen Wallace M.Ed. BCATR is an art therapist, artist, and art instructor living and working in Regina SK. Canada. She has a private practice with adults and children and specializes in depression, trauma, life transition and abuse work. She facilitates art therapy, creativity and art groups. She teaches internationally. She shows her mixed media art in galleries in Regina, Victoria B.C. and the Gulf Islands. Karen is known for her enthusiastic and dynamic teaching style. Her workshops are rich, playful and creative. Karen’s art work is a reflection of her art therapy work. She expresses her love of nature, her practice of Buddhism and her family in her art. Web site: www.islandnet.com/~kwallace