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Breaking the cycle in Barnsley


A support group for men, women and children who have experienced domestic abuse in Barnsley is helping to give people a voice as part of its Creative Minds-funded ‘Breaking the cycle through creative activities’ programme.

The Domestic Abuse Refuge Support Group has so far delivered over 100 sessions to people in the district who have suffered or experienced domestic abuse at some point in their lives.

The sessions help to improve the self-esteem and self-confidence of its participants through creative therapies such as art, clay modelling, role-play, dress up, visualisation techniques, stones, small world transitional objects and letter writing.

Children are able to express how they feel without words by using creative therapy techniques instead such as drawing pictures, giving colours to moods, feelings and behaviours. Using these techniques can help to reduce anxiety and worry in the child.

Other adults have taken to journal and letter writing to express their feelings on paper. Having something to look back on has improved their confidence as they are able to see where they have developed, recognise triggers to certain behaviours and manage unwanted thoughts and feelings in a more positive manner.

The Domestic Abuse Refuge Support Group employs two experienced counsellors/psychotherapists who are members of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy. Counsellors use their experience, knowledge and understanding of different therapeutic activities and methods to create sessions to complement and support each person.

Kathryn Downes, resource centre manager, said: “By working together as a team, building things, writing letters to each other or simply just playing and listening to each other, family members have been able to see things from the other’s perspective. This has improved family dynamics and given families coping strategies that work well within the home environment, creating less stress and better ways of dealing with unwanted situations that arise.

We have excellent feedback from schools, children’s centres and family members who report increased confidence, self-esteem and willingness to learn.”

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Creative Minds is a registered charity in England and Wales number: 1055931-13. Registered office: Fieldhead Hospital, Ouchthorpe Lane, Wakefield, WF1 3SP