The Art Therapy Program at White Fields is a truly unique aspect of the treatment services and is one-of-kind in the state of Oklahoma. Art therapy is an essential part of the boys’ development because traditional modes of therapy alone can be limited. Children who have experienced complex trauma struggle with emotion regulation, impulse control, foresight, and curiosity. These common difficulties lead to poor self-image and low self-esteem. Art therapy meets the needs of our challenging population by providing a variety of opportunities for healthy self-expression.

Outstanding aspects of our program include a well-equipped studio room with a plethora of art media designed to cater to the specific therapeutic needs of each individual. Each boy on campus receives one hour per week of one-on-one therapy with myself, a board certified art therapist. Their creations do not necessarily meet the traditional expectations of art but instead reflect the individual boy’s healing process. This process of creating art engages both the sensory system as well as the emotional state and is therefore a holistic approach to therapy.

To illustrate the healing power of art I would like to share one boy’s story. I worked with him for several years during his residence at White Fields. He deeply struggled with his sense of worth and identity. Due to his painful history of child abuse and multiple losses, only paint, color, and shapes could safely express his feelings of rage as illustrated in his artwork pictured here.  By creating this painting, it allowed me, his therapist, to see his individual experience. This created a shared understanding and helped him to feel less alone with these intense emotions.

I have worked in three other states and many other treatment programs and can speak to the strength and uniqueness of White Fields. The continuity of care and the dedication of staff create a community unparalleled by any I have ever seen. I feel privileged to be a part of these boys’ home.


Debbie Simms, MS, ATR-BC


Comments are closed