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Art therapy used to help kids, teens at Kids Escaping Drugs

Art therapy helps with substance abuse treatment.

WEST SENECA, N.Y. — Art therapy is helping the kids and teenagers at the Kids Escaping Drugs Renaissance Campus.

Art therapists say it helps with communication, coping, and self-expression.

"A lot of things that the patients have gone through, especially trauma, there's not necessarily words for, or words are not enough," Lynette Gawron said. "So, art helps us be able to access some of that information. It helps a patient be able to express what words can't do."

Gawron is the art therapist at KED's Renaissance Campus. She says just like in all of our lives, a lot of things have changed because of COVID-19 for her young patients.

"I think there's a lot more anxiety," Gawron said. "I think they feel isolated and cut-off from people that might be able to support them."

And, that's where Gawron comes in. She's able to meet with the patients one-on-one and safely in groups to cope, relax, and connect with their peers.

"I had somebody just recently, one of the patients say this, that it was great to be in our therapy group with some of the other patients because then they could see that they were going through the same stuff as him, some of the same feelings too," Gawron said. "So as they are expressing their feelings, what they're dealing with, they can see that other people are dealing with the same thing. They're not alone, and it's okay to start talking about these kinds of things."

Their art projects use all kinds of materials to help them stay engaged in their treatment process.

"We do all kinds of things," Gawron said. "We build with cardboard, so we've built things like illustrations of their recovery in some kinds of structure or building. We've done things like patchwork heart pillows to kind of talk about how we might heal, and how we come together, and how that is a process of each stitch as we heal."

There's also something they do called EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It's used to resolve trauma.

"Eye movements, some therapists use light bars, I have pulsators that pulse left, right," Gawron said. "So all it is is a tap left, right, left, right, and we use that within this process."