Our Expressive Therapy program is run out of our headquarters in Moore Park Sydney in 10, ninety-minute sessions held over the course of a school term.
There are 4-6 school aged children (up to 14 years) in each session, grouped by age and referral issues, and each group is conducted by three of our highly trained expressive therapists – ensuring high therapist to child ratios and multiple viewpoints on each child’s behaviour.
Key to KidsXpress’ success is the ability of our therapy team to create a safe, non-judgmental environment for children. The first three weeks of the program focus on establishing this trust.
From there, each child is encouraged to express their feelings, and look more closely at themselves using music, art, drama and play therapies.
Over the final four weeks of the program the Therapists help each child find creative ways to cope with their feelings and experiences into the future.
The child must be referred by a suitable professional – usually from health, education or social services. For instance, they could be a psychologist, counsellor or social worker. The referring professional needs to be currently working with the child and not be related to them.
There are times when a school or organisation has a group of up to 6 children who could benefit from working together in a therapeutic environment. In those instances we offer sessions during school hours.
One of the keys to the success of KidsXpress is that we create a safe place for children to really explore their feelings in order for them to figure things out. As such, parents or caregivers do not participate in the sessions with their child. Apart from the therapists – it literally is a kids-only zone.
Once a child has completed the 10-week program, the parent and referrer will be given a summary of the child’s progress, including further therapeutic recommendations as well as relevant contact details for follow up creative programs in their area.
In the months following we’ll check in at various stages to see how each child is progressing. Parents and referrers will also need to do an online evaluation to help us validate the effectiveness of the program.
What makes this program unique is that four key creative therapies are used alongside each other, providing each child with many ways to express their thoughts and feelings.
Creative pursuits and the arts are fundamental to the human experience, helping us to explain and understand our experiences, respond to our world, and to connect with others. The arts also engage our imaginations, helping us to step beyond our own experiences, to build empathy, and to try new approaches. These precious attributes also mean that the arts have incredible healing potential, particularly when dealing with children whose lives have been impacted by trauma.
Expressive/creative therapies give children the experience of doing, making, and creating to help energise, redirect attention and focus and alleviate emotional stress. Expressive therapies promote active participation, and are sensory in nature, helping children to engage their imaginations, minds and bodies, rather than simply engaging their cognitive abilities.
For children with limited language skills and vocabularies, and particularly for children impacted by trauma who may be unable to put complex ideas and feelings into speech, expression through art, music, play, or movement empowers them to express themselves without the boundaries imposed by words.
Childhood trauma has a profound effect in the Australian community – and its impacts are felt by everyone. The long term effects of childhood trauma are often the most visible: broken relationships and families, violence, abuse & neglect, homelessness, drug and alcohol dependence, mental illness, and unemployment. These can often be linked back to the impacts of unresolved childhood trauma. But with early and appropriate intervention – these impacts can be managed and minimised.
KidsXpress was created to help deal with these problems. Our expressive therapy program is underpinned by an understanding of the importance of early intervention, the transformative power of expressive therapies, creativity, and play, and the incredible ability of the brain to change itself (‘brain plasticity’). For children with limited language skills and vocabularies, and particularly for children impacted by trauma who may be unable to put ideas into speech, expression through art, music, movement, or play empowers them to express themselves without the need for words.
Our expressive therapy program gives children the experience of doing, making, and creating – to help energise, redirect attention and focus, and alleviate emotional stress. This allows children to fully concentrate on issues, goals, and behaviors. Expressive therapies promote active participation, and are sensory in nature – helping children to engage their imagination, mind and their body, rather than simply engaging their cognitive abilities. By augmenting creative and imaginative thinking, expressive therapies help to generate self expression, experimentation, and subsequent verbal reflection. Developments in neuroscience also indicate that this can allow the brain to establish new, more productive patterns.
The creative modalities we use in our therapy space help children to move beyond their preconceived beliefs through experimentation with new ways of communication and experiences that involve ‘pretend’. The imaginative thinking needed to make a drawing, create a movement, write a story, write songs and make music open children up to the possibility of trying out inventive and imaginative solution, and bringing their creative resources to old problems, difficulties, and challenges.
KidsXpress’ group therapy approach is also core to its success. Children are placed in groups of 4 to 6 – with similar ages and referral issues. This helps children to realise they are not alone in their experiences. Our groups take a very collaborative approach to therapy – with the whole group moving through the therapy space together, through each of the creative modalities with all three of the therapists. This allows children to build and develop meaningful connections with one another and the therapists.
Research shows timely response post event facilitates faster recovery. It also minimises impact of event and entrenchment of associated responses.
Research demonstrates enhanced outcomes from co-led therapy. A child can observe and practice healthy and effective interpersonal relationships.
Allows for peer connection and support. Develops a child’s understanding that they are not alone in their experiences. Group Therapy allows modelling and experimentation of social connections. Research shows enhanced outcomes from group therapy as opposed to individual therapy while also being cost efficient.
Trauma has physiological manifestations. Expressive therapy enables sensory engagement and externalisation of verbally inaccessible memories and emotions. It empowers children to communicate via developmentally appropriate methods. Early childhood trauma impacts executive neural organisation which may render verbal/cognitive therapies less effective.
Facilitates most appropriate and flexible response to meet a child’s needs. Comprehensively addresses children’s challenges through insights from multiple perspectives.
10 Week Program
Research shows 10 week programs deliver optimal results. It ensures high rates of program completion and aligns with school terms.
Professional Referral Pathway
To identify children most in need and to ensure collaborative care and ongoing support.