Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Blue Box project

Today, we visited the Blue Box project of Limerick, and its work with art therapy. Throughout the week, we had learned about the few options for children with mental health needs in Ireland and that one of the reasons parents don’t seek mental health services for children is the potential for placement in facilities similar to detention centers. We also learned that children in crèche schools (low-income schools) can receive services from counselors who ask teachers to recommend individuals for counseling. 
This is what The Blue Box does for 20 crèche schools in the area. The speakers for this visit Bernadette Kenny and Austin Creaven use Dance/Movement, Art, and Play therapy in individual sessions. The child initiates sessions by choosing materials they are drawn to (art supplies, toys, instruments, etc.). Austin explained that being ‘in the moment’ with children helps them express their conscious and unconscious thoughts/feelings. Bernadette added that the therapeutic relationship, communication, and self-esteem are strengthened in the process of therapy and the end product (ex. a painting) is less important. As an Art Therapy student, I am happy to see that we share these beliefs. It was inspiring to see that this small company is growing and contributing to better mental health care for children in Ireland. Bernadette stated that parents embrace their services because they want the best for their children. However, there are still stigmas attached to ‘therapy’, so the words ‘art’ and ‘play’ help them. She explained that children have traditionally been held to high standards and can often feel like failures. This is one issue that The Blue Box is confronting on a daily basis in order to aid in healthy adjustment. 
As I was leaving, I looked at their bulletin board, which featured pamphlets for LGBT, abuse, and grief related services for teens. Overall, this visit to The Blue Box was encouraging because I could see that there are professionals making steps towards a larger network of care for children in Ireland. 

-Kristin Wunderlin

At the Blue Box project:

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