Frederica Brooks is the senior art therapist at Freedom from Torture’s London centre. Here she gives us an insight into her work with torture survivors.
Art is a valuable medium through which torture survivors can express themselves, accessing emotions which they may not be ready to verbalise in one to one counselling sessions.
Techniques include painting, drawing and sculpting. We offer art therapy to adults and also children who have experienced a high level of violence, separation, loss and change. Many of these children have often undergone and witnessed terrible brutality. Art allows their concerns to be expressed through symbols or metaphors.
I make art about my country, my home, my city. I feel sad because of so many bad memories. But I feel good to do art together with other people.
I facilitate the use of creativity for expressing and ultimately helping understand often unspeakable experiences of trauma and torture. Some of our clients are not able to communicate in English so after sessions, I debrief interpreters. Afterwards, I store confidential artwork made, and do follow-up work generated by sessions.
Later, I receive clients for the Open Art Studio which runs in the afternoon. This is a mixture of supporting longer- standing members to develop their creativity, and introducing the space to new members with an interest in arts. Some drop-in briefly, others stay for the full three hours. Some members have not used art materials since before they were tortured. I encourage authenticity through aesthetic integrity. There is a broad range of experiences and capacities to be nurtured.
We employ counsellors, psychotherapists, doctors and support workers to help someone through the long recovery journey. We offer one-to-one therapy, group activities and other support including for physical pain.
Our services are offered to men, women, children and young people, as well as to families and couples. To find out more information about our Therapy and Support services, click here.