Chile Healing Arts Program

A 8.8 magnitude earthquake lasting 90 seconds struck of the coast of the Maule region of Chile on February 27, 2010, affecting 80 percent of the country and triggering a tsunami that devastated coastal towns and ports. The earthquake was so strong that seismologists estimate it moved the entire city of Concepción nearly 10 feet (3 meters) to the west.

Research shows that earthquakes increase the rates of mental health problems in the communities they strike. A series of studies conducted 1 to 4 years after the August 1999 earthquake in Turkey showed that about 40 percent of survivors suffered from PTSD and 20 percent from depression. The effectiveness of art therapy in a post-earthquake setting was demonstrated in a study of twenty-five elementary schoolchildren who were victims of the Los Angeles earthquake in 1994. Art therapy services were found to be instrumental in accessing the children’s internal processes and helping them return to normal functioning.

Through the Chile Healing Arts Program, the ICAF will train and send groups of art therapists to Chile starting in August 2010. Severe cases will be identified for psychological treatment and the program results will be independently evaluated. An art exchange component will provide schoolchildren in the U.S. an opportunity to view the art of Chilean children, who in turn will receive encouragement art from their American counterparts. The program will continue throughout 2010 and beyond, if the necessary funding becomes available.

The ICAF’s program partners include the Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities after Disasters (University of Massachusetts Boston) and the International Art Therapy Organization. The ICAF is seeking partners especially in Chile to help organize and support the program.

The ICAF is making available free-of-charge its Guidelines for any person currently working with children in Chile or planning to do so.

The ICAF Guidelines:
Chile: Art as a Source of Healing Documentary from Summer 2010