Creating to recreate oneself beyond the wound

Creating to recreate oneself beyond the wound

Nadia De Backer – Art-therapist for 2019 Resilience Retreat


About twenty children and young people aged between 4 and 19 years old met this year to discuss the challenges of creation, during their stay.

With a team of trained co-facilitators, we invited them to “create what they wanted”, without any particular theme, and we accompanied them on a creative adventure, of which they were the authors. With the assurance that the works would not be used for any psychological diagnosis or serve as a basis for an explicit portrayal of their life experiences.
Freedom of expression and respect for privacy are key elements of the framework.

Some original themes emerged and moved enough people to bring together a small group. Many hearts, cats, planes and butterflies came out from children. Pebbles covered with sequins and precise words – like those thrown on a mural – such as “Awesome” or “So Dope” from teenagers, as well as a series of fine clay models to support the weight of their phones.

These works contain a mystery because art therapy maintains the right distance from traumatic life events. It offers a space of symbolization that allows to integrate life experiences without reliving the psychological burdens of the violence suffered. In these conditions, intimate representations can be redesigned towards something more beautiful and coherent, that can connect people in a sense of belonging to the deeply human experience that is life.
If participants have joy in being there, in having the power to act and in living their creativity in connection with others, then the goal is achievable.

At the end of the stay, the creative adventure is celebrated with an exhibition of the chosen works and a musical entertainment shared with their parents and the other participants. The works are delivered with strength and modesty. We recognize both the love of life and the suffering that has brought families to a period of resilience. Emotion is present and hearts open with gratitude to the children and young people who show us their strength to live their raw and ephemeral truths.


Nadia De Backer