Arts Therapy Clinic-Children in Crisis-CAMBODIA

Feb 26, 2013

Be-yourself Cambodian Arts Therapy Service

Ragamuffin House is a beautiful sanctuary in the heart of the city of Phnom Penh, and home to Ragamuffin Cambodia - an International Creative Arts Therapy Organisation (est.1999). We provide innovative and pioneering programmes that support those experiencing trauma or mental health problems. Our projects current programmes include:

  • Be-Yourself - A Cambodian-led Arts Therapy service for children & adolescents; 
  • The Ragamuffin Lighthouse Therapeutic Recording Studio - A Music Therapy and Professional Recording programme;
  • New Frontiers - Wilderness and Adventure Therapy for young people at risk;
  • Ragamuffin International - Professional Training and Consultancy in Arts Therapy, Mental Health and Organisational Well-being.
  • Life Creative – Inspiring Community Events and Healing Foods in Ragamuffin’s Intimate Café.

Be-Yourself  - is Cambodia's first Cambodian led Arts Therapy Service for Children and Adolescents.

Its been the result of training, pilot programmes and funding support from people like you!

Our team of Cambodian Therapists are able to offer tailor made therapeutic programmes for individuals, groups and communities.

They are working with children who have experienced trafficking, abuse, violence or who are living with HIV and experiences of poverty and complex social backgrounds.

Mental health services are vital to well-being and resillience for young people and their families, especially in countries where there are little resources and support. Arts Therapy provides a natural and gentle approach to empowering individuals and groups to realise who they are and their value and worth in the world.

Our team are witnessing a remarkable impact.

Ragamuffin’s Arts Therapy Clinic for children and young people has continued to develop in partnership with six organisations, Ragamuffin’s Arts Therapists are working with children and young people with diverse needs and who are often from complex and extremely difficult socio/economic backgrounds for example:

  1. Children who live with HIV and have lost one or both parents from the disease.
  2. Those who have experienced abuse or the violence of being trafficked and sexually exploited.
  3. Children who grow up in families where domestic violence and addictions are prevalent.
  4. Children in situations of poverty where they are forced to be involved in child labour to enable their family to survive
  5. Children whose home is the streets or beach and are at risk from being exploited
  6. Families who have been evicted from their land and have become refugees in their own country

Working with Partner Organisations enables us to develop joined up services and strengthen the capacity of each organisation’s psychological services. Training, the development of policies and protocols for safeguarding children, and providing programmes of individual and group Creative Arts Therapy all serve to meet children in their need and deepen an understanding of the emotional and psychological needs of children for the staff team. This helps create a response to children that is insightful and sensitive. To this end, Ragamuffin Therapists also provide a specialist service that works alongside social workers, caregivers and medical staff.

“As I have observed Ragamuffin therapists work, I have gained new knowledge and have learnt a whole new way of being with children. For example, I have been learning how to encourage children to play, and to help them manage their challenges without reacting. In the past it was easy to be angry with the children, I didn’t know how to deal with their behaviour, as a result of our partnership with Ragamuffin, I have changed, I can encourage and support children, its helped me to understand and be patient. I’m now encouraging mothers and caregivers to learn how to play in this way with children – it’s a healing way, and I’ve seen the positive difference it makes. It’s increased my ability and confidence to be actively involved with the children and families.” (E & D Staff Member)

“ We have received, support encouragement, patience, motivation and new opportunities. Ragamuffin is a safe and peaceful place who we have been fortunate to link with and bring troubled and traumatised children from the community to get support. Our team have been able to observe how therapists work with children and learn so much in this process. It’s helped me to recognise and discover how to strengthen, value and understand partnership working, the management of collaboration and relationships between organisations.” (Director of E & D)

As a result there has been an increased recognition of the value and impact of arts therapy with those who are suffering distress. Increase corporation. Increased awareness in the whole organisation of mental health issues, arts therapy and sensitive effective responses and programme development. It also helps us to be more in tune with the need to prioritise mental health issues in the community and understand how they impact on a person, their family and the community.” (Director E & D)

The future of the Arts Therapy Clinic

I hope this Clinic will continue to help children in Cambodia and provide them a chance to explore, express, and acknowledge their pain and deeply felt emotions so that they can take their place in the world and make progress. The clinic allows traumatized children to search deep within themselves and helps them gain inner strength and confidence”. (Panchakna Khlok)

“I think it is so important for Ragamuffin’s Arts Therapy clinic to continue in the long term. So far, I have provided ongoing therapy to fragile and distressed clients-  all my clients suffer severe depression, anxiety, and behavioural problems that are caused by sexual abuse, domestic violent, addiction, and HIV/AIDS. The clients have found this therapy process as the breath and sacred space to look deeply into their inner world that is full of unresolved conflict. And, it also helps them to find new positive relationship between their inside and outside world, and to navigate new hope, new way to solve their conflict, and to embrace self-love one again. (Serey Samchet – Arts Therapist)

You have and you can continue to make a difference by supporting our Cambodian Arts Therapy Team!

Thank you for being part of Be-Yourself Arts Therapy Service in Cambodia - committed to making a difference to he lives of traumatised and vulnerable children.


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Project Leader

Carrie Herbert

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Where is this project located?

Map of Arts Therapy Clinic-Children in Crisis-CAMBODIA