Arts Therapies as Crisis Intervention

A collection of three films on the use of drama and art therapy in crisis intervention. The first, “Standing Tall,” features drama therapist Dr. Robert Landy; the second, “Tender Hearts,” features art therapist Laura Loumeau-May; and the third, “Drawing from the Fire,” features art therapist Kristen Mendenhall. All three deal with traumatic events and the use of arts therapies to lessen their impact on children. Dr. Landy was invited to work with 4th/5th grade children in New York City who witnessed from their classroom window the fall of the World Trade Center during the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001. Loumeau-May worked with children grieving the loss of their loved ones on 9/11. Mendenhall worked with children and their families in the wake of the 1991 wildfires that ripped through Oakland, CA. All three films depict the power of the arts to address children’s experiences of trauma, starting from a space of safety and helping children work through their experience to create a narrative of the traumatic experience as a part of their healing. The children’s capacity for meaning making is affirmed and, in Landy’s words, the potential for post-traumatic disorder is addressed from the point of view of prevention. A common theme in the films is the power of creative expression to help parents understand the depth of their children’s experiences and for the community to come together and cope collectively with the trauma to foster resilience.

Standing Tall
Peggy Stern

This film documents the transformation of the young students’ stories into a theatrical performance. It offers a compelling portrait of the sometimes amazing coping strengths that children can display when they are able to work through such experiences with the help of skilled, supportive adults. Drama therapy with elementary children who’s school is close to the World Trade Center.

Tender Hearts
Primetime ABC News

For a group of children who lost their fathers on September 11th, art therapy is playing an important role in overcoming profound sorrow. ABC News explores how children are often better able to express their pain, grief and fears through pictures rather than words.

Drawing from the Fire
Chris Holmes

One year after a devastating wildfire, an agency is invited by the school’s psychologists and therapists to work with the students. Art therapy groups offer the children a place share their feelings and thoughts about the traumatic experience. Other interventions involve the parents and the wider community as they work to rebuild and cope.

Total Running Time: 1 hour, 1 minute



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