“I Feel Like I Am Finding Peace”: Exploring the Use of a Combined Art Therapy and Adapted Seeking Safety Program with Refugee Support Groups

Gretchen E. Ely, Samantha Koury, Kim Bennett, Cari Hartinger, Susan Green, Thomas Nochajski


This paper describes the creation and implementation of a trauma support group intervention which combined aspects of the Seeking Safety model with an art therapy technique in an effort to reduce trauma-related symptoms in a population of refugees.  A preliminary assessment was carried out to evaluate the potential effectiveness of the combined approach with trauma-exposed refugees.  Based on facilitator notes from 8 sessions of two women’s refugee groups and one men’s group, three themes were identified: mandala creation enhanced the Seeking Safety content, language barriers impacted the potential for implementation, and the trauma support group was a means of personal growth for participants. Reports from facilitators and participants also suggested a reduction in trauma-related symptoms and an increase in participant use of safe coping skills as a result of group participation. While additional research is needed, these exploratory results suggest that this combined approach holds promise for positively impacting trauma symptoms in trauma-exposed refugees.


Seeking safety; mandala; art therapy; PTSD; trauma-exposed refugees; trauma symptoms

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18060/21130

Copyright (c) 2017 Gretchen E Ely, Samantha Koury, Kim Bennett, Cari Hartinger, Susan Green, Thomas Nochajski


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