Originally, resilience is the ability of a metal to resist pressure and return to its original structure after being deformed. In psychology, resilience is the ability to live, to succeed, to develop in spite of adversity.
(B. Cyrulnik, neuropsychiatrist)
The concept was discovered in 1982 by Emmy Werner*, an American psychologist who followed 700 children in Hawaii who had no family, no school, were living on the streets and had been physically or sexually abused. While thirty years later, most of them had become destroyed adults, 28% had managed to learn a trade, start a family and did not suffer from any major psychological problems. She concluded that children have a special capacity to overcome life’s traumas and to cope, and called those who had used this capacity “resilient”.
*Werner, E.E & Smith R.S, “Vulnerable but invicible : a longitudinal study of resilient children and youth“, New York, McGraw Hill, 1982
The story of Innocence in Danger’s resilience stays began in 2002.
A mother whose daughter had been brutally raped, asked Homayra Sellier, founder of the Innocence in Danger movement, for help to bring the girl out of the silence into which she had lapsed.
Knowing that the girl loved horses, Madame Sellier invited the child to spend a few days at a riding school.
The young girl, in contact with the animals, overcame her trauma.
She found the strength to start therapeutic treatment and, finally, to testify against her abusers in criminal court.
Since 2003, more than 2’000 child victims of sexual abuse participated in our resilience stays. Each of our trips is tailored to the needs of the participants:
These stays are supervised by a team of professionals: art therapists, psychologists, child psychiatrists, doctors, artists, interpreters, etc.to facilitate through art therapy workshops the natural resilience of each participant.
Read here the professional opinion of Claudia Jankech-Caretta, Specialist FSP in child and adolescent psychology, in child, adolescent and adult psychotherapy
Today’s children will be the consumers, employees, managers and leaders of tomorrow!
It is by becoming aware of themselves, their talents and their passions, that the children gradually regain confidence in themselves and in adults.
The workshops are all therapeutic. We offer, for example, horseback riding, music therapy, drawing, music, singing, sculpture, theatre, dance, film making, forest walks, cooking classes, trekking, climbing, rafting, swimming, photography workshops, calligraphy, nature discovery, tai chi, yoga and many more.
Personal or collective objectives are defined during the workshops. These objectives allow the participants to feel safe enough to express themselves artistically and emotionally. In this way, bonds are forged between children facing the same difficulties, and little by little they regain confidence in themselves, in others, and in the future.
« Painting to become aware of one’s contradictions, dancing to de-dramatise one’s wounds… With art therapy, artistic creation allows access to buried feelings. »
The workshops take place individually or in groups, for child victims and their accompanying adult.
« The will to live is not hereditary. But we can all pass it on to our children through the love and learning to care. »
According to Sébastien Bohler, PhD in neurobiology: « The most important thing to remember about childhood trauma […] is that in a safe and supportive environment in which the child’s basic needs (physical safety and emotional security) are met, the damage caused by trauma and abuse can be mitigated and reduced. »
« Art therapy is a strategy of diversion, a ruse that allows to circumvent the suffering, to use artistic creation to penetrate the unconscious problems of the individual and to lead him to a positive transformation of himself. The goal is to start from his pain, his violence… to make it the material of each personal path. From the worst is thus born a construction, an artistic production that tends towards listening. »
Children also learn to develop empathy, defined by neurobiologist Prof. Jean Decety as « the ability to feel an appropriate emotion in response to that expressed by another, to distinguish between self and other and to regulate one’s own emotional responses» .
All the studies prove it: a child can rebuild himself if he is supported by at least one protective adult in his daily environment.
The testimonies of the participants crossed with the observations of the experts, show a prodigious evolution of the children. Many therapists are amazed at the results obtained in such a short time. For some of them, they had never succeeded in obtaining such a result, even after years of classic therapies.
These stays have real virtues, both on a neurological and physical level. In 2013, a scientific study conducted by the University of Koblenz measured the impact of Innocence in Danger’s resilience stays in detail. The full study can be found HERE. (German only)