At the heart of our Expressive Therapy program lies a safe space where children are able to reveal their inner worlds in ways words alone cannot capture. Each day, we witness the profound impact of this unique therapeutic approach, which incorporates art, music, play, and drama to help children express and process their emotions. One particularly poignant example illustrates the transformative power of our work.

During one session, 8 year old Ava* who’d been referred to our Macquarie Park centre, was invited to choose an instrument to play. She gravitated toward the drums, and as she began to play, her movements were loud, erratic and forceful. The room filled with a cacophony of sound, each beat seemingly more intense than the last. When gently asked what the sounds represented, she shared a heartbreaking insight: the noise reminded her of the chaos at home when her parents argued. The constant loudness made her feel overwhelmed and powerless, unable to escape the turmoil.

This session was more than just an opportunity for the child to make noise. It was a crucial step in her healing journey, providing a non-verbal outlet for the emotions she struggled to articulate. Through the safe and supportive environment created by our therapists, she was able to express her feelings and start to process the fear and anxiety that had been bottled up inside her. This is the essence of expressive therapy – it allows children to use a creative medium to communicate their experiences in a developmentally appropriate way, leading to profound insights and healing.

Expressive therapy is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Each child’s journey is unique, and our therapists are skilled in tailoring their approach to meet the individual needs of each client. For some children, this might mean engaging in drama therapy, where they can role-play scenarios and explore different outcomes. For others, it might involve art therapy, where they can draw or paint their feelings, providing a visual representation of their internal struggles. These varied modalities allow us to meet children where they are, offering them the tools to navigate their emotions and build resilience.

One of the most compelling aspects of our work is the visible transformation we see in the children we serve. Another poignant example from our sessions involves a six-year-old girl who shared with us during a game of ‘hide and seek’ with dolls that she plays a similar game at home, except it involves helping her dad hide bottles of alcohol to prevent her mum from drinking too much. When the therapist asked how she felt about the game, she said she enjoyed playing bottle hide and seek but then went on to share that she doesn’t like it when her mum ‘drinks all the bottle’ because her mum becomes angry and yells a lot. This confession gave our therapists a crucial insight into the hidden challenges the child faces at home, challenges that are too complex for her to fully understand but have started to manifest in her behaviour and emotional well-being.

By providing a safe space where children can express their feelings through play, we can uncover the underlying issues that affect their lives. This understanding allows our therapists to tailor their approach to meet each child’s unique needs, helping them process their emotions and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

At KidsXpress, every child’s story matters. The funds we receive from generous donors and supporters enable us to continue this vital work, reaching more children and making a lasting impact on their lives. Because every child should be able to access the support they need to have the future they deserve.

*Not her real name