An expressive art group intervention for sexually abused adolescent females
Objective: South Africa has a high prevalence of sexual abuse of children and adolescents. Among the numerous adverse consequences of sexual abuse is the difficulty survivors may experience in developing positive self-esteem and maintaining positive relationships. In a low resource setting, an expressive art group intervention tailored to female adolescents who have been sexually abused was implemented and its value explored.
Method: Six adolescents met for 10 weekly sessions which included expressive art activities, followed by reflective group discussions. The value of the intervention was explored using a qualitative research design with limited quantitative data.
Results: The participants reported that the group intervention relieved their sense of isolation and contributed to their ability to express emotions and develop self-awareness. Participants reported more positive self-esteem and improved interpersonal closeness. The intervention helped participants to find new meaning in painful experiences which contributed to personal growth.
Conclusions: The group dynamics, expressive art activities and reflective group discussions contributed to the therapeutic value of the intervention. The expressive art group intervention showed value as an alternative therapeutic strategy in a low resource setting for female adolescents who have experienced sexual abuse. An experimental design could follow to confirm the effectiveness of the intervention.