Arts Therapy Clinic-Children in Crisis-CAMBODIA

by The Ragamuffin Project
Jun 15, 2011

Cambodian Arts Therapists Reach Out To Vulnerable Children

Cambodian Arts Therapists Reach Out
Cambodian Arts Therapists Reach Out

The Ragamuffin Project’s Arts Therapy Clinic continues to grow and benefit traumatised and vulnerable children and young people in Cambodia. Ragamuffin’s Creative Arts Therapy Team work in partnership with six organisations in providing individual and group therapy and staff capacity building. In the last three months 315 children and young people have received individual and group arts therapy. Serey Samchet reflects on the importance of her role as an Arts Therapist in Cambodia:

I feel so inspired and proud to be an arts therapist. Throughout my experiences, I can see how arts therapy has naturally helped my clients to find healing and to discover their inner resources by its gently process. And, I love using arts therapy with my clients because it can help them to explore light, courage, and resources within them. The more I work in this field, the more I feel arts therapy is one of the powerful and safest tools for trauma therapy in Cambodia. (Serey Samchet, Arts Therapist The Ragamuffin Project June 2011)

In discussing some of the benefits of Arts Therapy Panchakana Khlok explains:

I am proud to be an Art Therapist of the Ragamuffin because I am able to walk alongside the journeys of my clients and witness their creative process and healing. I am able to see how valuable the healing arts is for vulnerable children.

Many times the children I work with are surprised that at Ragamuffin they have the freedom to celebrate who they are at the moment. Cambodian culture can sometimes suppress children’s ability to express their emotions as the cultural norm is to hide bad feelings and this is taught generation after generation. I work as an Art therapist to help children to explore, express, and acknowledge their emotions, their world and experiences. Arts Therapy allows traumatized children the ability to search deep within themselves and help them gain inner strength and confidence. (Panchakana Khlok, Arts Therapist 2011)

Arts Therapy helps vulnerable young people to find their voice.  A case study written by Serey Samchet.

My client is 14 year old, and lives with an illness, HIV. When he first came to Arts Therapy he was so quiet and rarely said any words. Over time he began to play and interact with the objects in the room. One session he created a battle scene between between soldiers and monsters. Through story telling, this gave him the opportunity to express the inner conflicts and struggles within him, he hated his illness and suffered so much discrimination and bullying from the people around him, it felt like a war inside. He began to express his deep feelings. Slowly the arts helped him to restore the inner resources, creativities, and strength within him as he was able to express his deep feelings. Last week, he said to me "thank you" with his eyes brimming with tears of joy mixed with his deep sorrows. He said “I always want to come to this place, it is a healing boat for me” he felt the release in his heart and started to find the real smile on his face. Our partner organisation's support staff who accompany the young people to sessions told me "he has been changed a lot after he came to get therapy in Ragamuffin, he has started to verbally communicate with other people much better than before, he is much more confident".


“I am not fine” – Panchakana Khlok explains how a young girl could express some of her painful experiences through the safe container of creativity.

My client, a young girl who had been trafficked, came to me for the first time and reported that she feels fine, she spoke that ”there is nothing in my past that bothers me“ Throughout the session, she tried to reassure me that nothing bad has happened that her. In the second session I asked her to draw a picture she drew a picture of herself surrounded by many different colors hearts. When I asked her about the picture of the heart surround her, she became sad and became silent. We talked about all the things that made her feel safe and loved now. Then she said with sadness "the hearts are all the bad people who have hurt me". it was only through the creative medium that she was able to express her experiences, her pain, and her true story. Panchakana Khlok 2011


These are extracts from a bigger picture of long-term work with children and young people whose lives are full of suffering and complexity. With the support and guidance of a therapist, the arts and creativity provide a gentle and effective response to enable children to express, contain and explore difficult feelings and experiences. Arts therapy helps to build self esteem, confidence and resilience. There is hope for the future. 

Hand in Hand the Partnership Scheme - The part you play…

We could not do this work without the commitment and support from people like you. A dedicated team of sponsors and funders makes all this possible. Your contributions make a direct impact and difference to the lives of those who suffer. Without your support this work cannot hope to meet the demand and grow.

Thank you for choosing to be part of Ragamuffin’s work to help restore those whose lives have been shattered or broken.



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Organization Information

The Ragamuffin Project

Location: Phnom Penh, NA - Cambodia
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Carrie Herbert
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
$17,015 raised of $50,000 goal
230 donations
$32,985 to go
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