Tami’s own special way

Late last week I received an update about Tami, the young teen in my post, “A Girl I Don’t Know,” and about the teen group in general. The news touched my heart and soul, bringing forth tears of gratitude and joy.

I feel a strong connection to Tami and the other girls in the group, not only because I had met them and had similar experience, but also because I was able to contribute something to their group, and to the new- and expanded group that began this fall.

Talking with the group facilitators about the future of the group back in August, I shared my thoughts on art as therapy, about the projects I had completed and the media I’d most recently enjoyed. The facilitators were excited, and drew from my ideas to build a concept for the group that would be forming in the fall: art journals composed of collages, each focused on a particular aspect of healing, such as anger, hope, fear and forgiveness. This is a very powerful project that excited me, too, prompting me to donate a big box of magazines and another box of other materials that the girls can use in their expressive artwork.

The size of the new teen incest survivor group is double that of the summer group. There are now 14 girls, ages 12 to 14. The facilitator told me that “this art therapy teens group is doing amazing things!” The girls are divided into in small groups, each with an adult monitor/facilitator, and work with their art journals.

I like to imagine the girls’ faces, intently focused on their work so time passes unnoticed. I smile to think of them cutting and tearing up the magazines and other things I gave them, finding the right images and words to express their emotions, and gluing them to their journal pages, fitting the snippets in where their feelings and intuition say they should go. I picture the teens’ satisfaction with their work, their pride when they share it with the group, and their affirmation when the group response validates their work, their feelings.

The group facilitator said that Tami is still not talking about the sexual abuse she endured, but she is “my biggest artist in the new teen group…she express her self openly when she can do it through art.” The facilitator is amazed that Tami is till not talking, but excited that, because of this art therapy group, the girl is able to “let it out her own way, her own special way.” I can imagine.

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2 Responses to Tami’s own special way

  1. Chava Gal-Or says:


    The four masks have left me contemplative as I wonder how each of us, survivors of childhood trauma have found our way. For me, I have found that within each of the four stages that you describe, we face moments of the other stages (if that makes sense). Using art therapy is such a fabulous idea; thank you for sharing Tami’s growth. I also feel gratitude for your reminder that we need to honor each person where they are.

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom and you own soul.

    Namaste (the spirit in me honors the spirit in you),

  2. shay says:

    Chava, thank you for your thoughtful reply. I agree, we sometimes do revisit the other “masks” as we move along the healing path. When I revisit one after having moved past it, I find that my relationship with that mask is different than it was the first- or subsequent times around. It’s as if the visit is at a higher level, with more clarity and less pain.

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