Benefits of Art Therapy for an Adolescent living with HIV/AIDS

Sarah Soo Hon, Christine Kerr

Abstract


Universally, the diagnosis of HIV generates physical, psychological and social impairments. Throughout the literature, patients speak of experiences of stigmatization and isolation caused by this diagnosis. This article explores some of the benefits of a brief art therapy experience with an adolescent girl living with HIV in Trinidad/Tobago where art therapy is a new form of treatment. Art therapy was carried out by a trainee art therapist during her graduate clinical training. Although brief, the art therapy provided a safe, supportive environment for the client who was enabled to become more connected to her emotional response to her diagnosis, and to begin to decrease her social isolation. The paper provides an overview of the history and background of HIV/AIDS, with a focus on the context in Trinidad and Tobago, and the impact of HIV/AIDS on children and teenagers. It suggests that engagement in art therapy can be enabling for children and adolescents with this diagnosis.

Key Words: HIV/Aids, adolescent, art therapy, brief art therapy, Caribbean.

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