This week I read a great article by L. Hartz & L. Thick in a 2005 Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association:  Art Therapy Strategies to Raise Self-esteem in Female Juvenile Offenders: a Comparison of Arts Psychotherapy and Art as Therapy Approaches.   I have been doing a little research to support the work I have done with adolescents in the corrections setting.  It is widely documented that  low self-esteem has a correlation to criminal behavior.

     Johnson & Ferguson (1990) suggest increasing self- awareness by helping teens:
–  Identify personal preferences and know what those are
–  Create realistic appreciation of their personal strengths and weaknesses
–  Develop problem-solving and life skills
–  Learn how to access and meaningfully use social support
–  Set realistic goals and take steps to achieve them
–  Increase abilities in areas that are important to teens (Harter, 1990)

     “Affirmations and visualizations are also recognized as powerful tools to improve self esteem.”  Hartz & Thick (2005, p. 72).  Today in my grief support group at a local middle school, we focused our work on affirmations.  The group members took turns reading one affirmation at a time aloud to the group.  It was really touching to hear them speak this way to one another,; powerful – these healing words coming from young people who have navigated the dark places of grief and the light work of healing.

Harter, S. (1990). Susan Harter: Developmental. Retrieved from University of Denver Department of  
     Psychology website: http://www.du/edu/psychology/people/harter.html
Johnson, K. & Ferguson, T. (1990). Trusting ourselves: The sourcebook on psychology for women.      
     New York, The Atlantic Monthly Press.


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