Creative Therapies

Creative Therapies at Hoffman Homes for Youth offer alternative methods of identifying and expressing emotions. They are vital in helping staff reach the most vulnerable of children. Art Therapy, Animal-Assisted Therapy, Music Therapy and Equine-Assisted Therapy are offered to students in 10-week cycles. Participation is voluntary. 

Art Therapy

The goal of Art Therapy is to provide children knowledge about art in a non-threatening environment. Using individual creativity, children learn responsibility, safe coping strategies and learn/strengthen skills while expressing themselves artistically. They are able to enhance self-esteem, promote identity formation, manage stress and support overall well-being. 

Children have the opportunity to experience Art Therapy in groups as well as individual therapy based on treatment goals and individual needs. Many of the children enjoy an open studio approach in which they are permitted to utilize materials of their choosing. Children are offered many different art mediums that include but are not limited to photography, pottery, crafts, sewing, collage, drawing, painting, jewelry making, paper-mache and creative writing.

By participating in Art Therapy, the children learn a variety of skills, which support their treatment goals, and that they can utilize during and after residential treatment. Many have expressed feelings of pride and confidence in their artwork and themselves.

Comments by children who have participated in Art Therapy:

“People get to know the real you. 

“You have fun doing what you love. You express yourself through art. 

“Art is like your life path. Color it each step. 

“I like how everyone can get really creative. 

“You can express yourself in positive ways and get your feelings on paper and most importantly HAVE FUN!” 

Music Therapy

Music Therapy utilizes music to promote, maintain and restore mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Used as a coping skill, music brings peace and comfort. Music Therapy promotes improved self-esteem, impulse control, group cohesiveness, and relaxation techniques, while providing children an outlet for safely expressing feelings. Creating music provides a sense of accomplishment and is something they can be proud of and share with others. 

Exposure to a variety of musical experiences is a goal of Music Therapy. Interventions include instrument play, ensemble performances, passive music listening, song writing, and lyric analysis to help children reach their individual treatment goals. Often, feelings that cannot be conveyed into words can be conveyed through music.  Music is a highly emotive intervention that often proves less threatening than traditional talk therapy. Often, feelings that cannot be conveyed into words can be conveyed through music.

Comments by children who have participated in Music Therapy:

“Music is life.” 

“Music help[s] me cope with…loss and pain and expressing anger toward people.” 

“Songs teach us that we can survive hard times. They allow us to hope for a better future and try to get there.” 

“Music enlightens the heart. Music carries joy and comfort through our spirits, to let ourselves get through whatever we are facing.” 

Animal-Assisted Therapy

The Animal – Assisted Therapy Program at Hoffman Homes gives youth the opportunity to learn about and interact with a variety of therapy animals. Each session begins with a therapeutic activity to help facilitate discussion. The session moves on to caring for the animals, feeding and cleaning cages, and ends in “free time” with an animal of the child’s choosing. During this time, children often feel relaxed and comfortable enough to share more about their history, behavior, and treatment goals.  

Animals and their behavior are used as metaphors for the child’s life situations. Animal – Assisted Therapy addresses flight, fight, and freeze response and herd instinct. It addresses how humans and animals are alike and different in their responses to danger and safety. The child is asked to create a safe environment for themselves and the animals, encouraging social interaction and problem-solving. The goals of Animal – Assisted Therapy are to help the child develop respect toward other living things, learn how to maintain safe and appropriate behavior around animals, develop coping and relaxation skills, enhance communication and social skills, cooperate with others, and develop a sense of self-worth.

Comments by children participating in Animal-Assisted Therapy:

“The animals help me feel happy and lovable.”

“I feel safe in pet therapy.” 

“Taking care of the animals helps me take care of myself.” 

“I learned that I am good with animals, patient with them, and animals can trust me.” 

“I learned that I can make a difference and that I am not worthless.” 

Equine-Assisted Therapy

Children participating in Equine-Assisted Therapy groups learn to work safely and appropriately with their peers and the horses while developing their horsemanship and riding skills. Sessions begin with group activities such as grooming, leading, and groundwork games to allow the children to become familiar with the horses. Children transition into mounted activities when they are able to display safe handling techniques from the ground. 

Children participating in barn management groups have the opportunity to learn how to appropriately care for and safely handle the horses in a non-threatening environment. Children are taught about the basic needs of the horse such as health care, dietary needs, and first aid. The children also assist in barn chores including sweeping and preparing grain to ensure that the horses and the children have a clean and safe space to enjoy. Working with the horses, children learn responsibility and social skills while enhancing empathetic skills.  

Equine-Assisted Therapy offers a variety of physical and emotional benefits. Emotional and psychological benefits include developing leadership skills, developing self-confidence, teaching impulse control, building and maintaining trusting relationships, developing awareness of non-verbal communication and creating a sense of pride. Physical benefits include improving balance, teaching body awareness, building core strength and improving flexibility.  

Comments by children participating in the Equine-Assisted Therapy Program:

“When I’m around Stitch and the other horses, they make me feel like who I want to be. I can be myself around them.” 

“The horses don’t boss me around like some bullies have done to me.” 

“It took away things I was worrying about and got my mind on something else.” 

“Horse therapy makes me happy.” 

“I like that you get to take care of the horses. You don’t just ride a horse you learn to take care of them. I feel really excited to work with a horse every week because it’s really fun.”