A Language All Her Own: Art Therapy at La Europa Academy

Out of our partnership with community media education organization, Spyhop Productions, we are proud to present this short documentary film about art therapy at La Europa Academy.

The direction, editing, camera work, and writing all came from teen participants in the Spyhop program. Erin O., 16-year-old director and editor, did a great job of reflecting the experience of our students and how they use, appreciate, and learn from their work in art therapy.

Thanks, Erin and Spyhop!

Congratulations, LEA Grad!

Understanding self and others

We want to congratulate our newest graduate of the La Europa program!

The picture above is her last art therapy work and she said it reflects the hard work she has done at La Europa on understanding herself and her relationships to others. When she told us she wanted to take this piece with her (but not her other art therapy work, which was not always as pretty and happy as this one), we framed it with her quote on what the piece is about.

Her graduation ceremony was wonderful, with lots of gifts, funny memories, and tears. Her mom is as proud of her as we are, and although it was sad to see them go from our La Europa family, we know they will be successful as they move forward.

You’ve Always Been Beautiful

You've always been beautiful

Greetings from Open Studio! We just wrapped up our first longer-form studio of the season and WOW was there great therapy work being done.

The girls have recently become fascinated with the idea of their FOLDERS. Each girl has a folder in my office where I keep all of their art therapy work from the time they arrive at La Europa. On Level 5, they have the option of doing a comprehensive art review where we lay out all of their art in chronological order and trace their progress visually.

Because of this, more and more girls are choosing to leave their Open Studio art with me to keep in their folder, curious to see how all of the pieces fit together and illustrate the hard work they are doing here. Although they don’t have to do therapeutic projects during Open Studio, it pleases me how often their self-directed work ends up being therapeutic, like the picture above.

I love working at La Europa and being able to integrate the arts into each girl’s clinical care.

— Malissa Morrell, ATR-BC (Board-Certified Art Therapist)

Pathways and Possibilities in Open Studio

One to two times a week, our girls participate in Open Studio. This is an unstructured, self-directed time where the students can work on their own projects in Art, Music, or Dance. What we are finding is that even though the girls aren’t obligated to do therapeutic or insight-oriented work in Open Studio, important themes tend to arise.

Here is a photo of one of our students experimenting with watercolors and breath (note the pink straw in her right hand). She places a small puddle of watercolor on the page, then blows at it with the straw. As I watch her, she seems to be most interested in the way that the paint breaks up and chases across the page. I think she would tell you that she is “just messing around.”

But, knowing this student as I do, I wonder about the idea of pathways, multiple endings that can come from one beginning, and possibilities. Many of our students spend their early months at La Europa contemplating whether their past life and their past decisions will really help them in the future. This kind of art-making is a wonderful way for a student’s mind to process these possibilities and explore questions such as, “Where do I go from here?”

Better yet, they feel like they are “just messing around,” hanging out with their friends, and enjoying some time in the art room. I am not telling them what to create, but I am carefully observing. All the while, their artwork speaks volumes to me about where they are in this process.

I love working with these students. They are so creative and I learn so much from them every day!

–Malissa Morrell, ATR-BC (Board-Certified Art Therapist)