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artsREACH of REACH of Haywood County, Inc.

Bringing the arts to  heal mind, body, emotions, and soul

REACH of Haywood County, Inc. serves survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault through advocacy, community outreach, and prevention education to empower individuals to live a self-sufficient life free of violence.


artsREACH of REACH of Haywood County

Bringing the arts to heal 

mind, body, emotions, and soul

artsREACH of Haywood County, NC is a resource-oriented expressive arts therapy program supported by REACH of Haywood County, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. artsREACH imparts the healing modalities of therapeutic art and writing as a source for building resilience, improving health, fostering reflection, and encouraging both creativity and play for residents of the Domestic Violence (DV) Shelter. Via creative engagement with the arts, participants engage in activities that promote identification of personal strengths and resources which will break through the silence and stigma of domestic violence and sexual assault.


Wounds are openings to soulful expression. 

                                                                           Shaun McNiff

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artsREACH provides creative expression as a healing tool for individuals finding sanctuary in the shelter. Participants will tell their stories of breaking through the stigma of abuse using a myriad of visual arts modalities and therapeutic writing prompts.


artsREACH offers:

1) An non-threatening creative making and writing process, 2) A method to use art as a therapeutic tool to reduce stress, 3) A twice-monthly support group that supports and encourages art-based responses to journal writing, discussion, disclosures, and “check-ins” with each participant, and 4) A support group that uses the arts and creative processes to soften the experience of trauma.

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Expressive Therapy as an Element in DV Support Groups

artsREACH builds the capacity of REACH of Haywood County shelter support services.


The goal of artsREACH expressive art therapy facilitations is to counteract the violence in people’s lives with the good of creative activity. Expressive arts modalities create a safe group environment/support group model where participants can channel the negative energy born of domestic violence into creative, safe expression. 


artsREACH provides a safe, gentle, and effective way for survivors to express and release painful feelings and to overcome the abusive messages that they learned from their batterers. Via expressive art therapy facilitations, residents to develop a renewed sense of possibility that profoundly impacts future decisions regarding the direction of their lives, their relationships, and how to stay safe. Art empowers survivors to transform how they view themselves, allowing them to see past the abusive messages they learned from their batterers and rebuild their self-confidence.


artsREACH provides twice monthly expressive arts therapy support groups for shelter residents. Participants tell their stories, express their feelings, and rebuild their self-confidence. Domestic violence has a devastating impact on victims who often lack the words to describe their experiences. Art provides participants positive ways to handle their anger and pain, an essential step in breaking the chain of family violence for future generations. Art provides an extremely accessible resource for cultural expression, community education, and outreach that is all the more powerful when it reflects the experiences of a particular identity – then, others of that same identity learn that they are not alone.


artsREACH will guide residents to develop a renewed sense of hope and possibility that profoundly impacts future decisions regarding the direction of their lives, their relationships, and how to stay safe. Art empowers survivors to transform how they view themselves, allowing them to see past the abusive messages they learned from their batterers and rebuild their self-confidence.


Client Feedback in Response to Expressive Arts Support Group Participation 

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I absolutely enjoyed the art time. It helped to be an outpouring of my feelings. It was a time that felt freeing and a good release. As we created our art, we could think and have the freedom to not think. I would like to continue this group. I feel it is beneficial in many ways for myself and my children.

37 yo female and mother to a 14 yo daughter and 17 yo son. 

In DV shelter for 3 months.

Loved the class, therapeutic and goofy, made me laugh. Elizabeth is a very awesome person. I enjoy when she comes over.

 50 yo female. In DV shelter for approximately 4 months.


I thought this art therapy class was helpful in the unique music that was playing as we made our creations. I found out that my mind’s thoughts come out in very creative and abstract ways.

A poem by this same participant:

Opening the mind in an artful way

Gives the brain time to play.

A creative path to heal the mind.

To be treasured throughout time.

42 yo female. In DV shelter for approximately 3 months


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I was not looking forward to this class at first. I sat down and Elizabeth helped me feel comfortable. Elizabeth said that there was not any judgment and then I felt so at ease. I ended up really enjoying the project and the conversation. Elizabeth made my life easier just by doing this project and talking to us. Thank you for everything, Elizabeth and I hope I am able to sit with you again.

38 yo female. In DV shelter for approximately 2 weeks.  

Domestic Violence Readings

Domestic Violence & Therapeutic Writing

Boone, B.A. & Castillo, L.G. (2008). The use of poetry therapy with domestic violence counselors experiencing

     secondary posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. Journal of Poetry Therapy, 21(1), 3-14.

Domestic Violence & Expressive Arts Therapy

Hearns, M.C. (2009). A journey thrrough ashes: One woman’s story of surviving domestic violence.

     Anthropology of Consciousness, 20(2), 111-129.

Wozniak, D.F. & Allen, K.N. (2012). Ritual and performance in domestic violence healing: From survivor to

     thriver through rites of passage. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, 36, 80-101.

     doi: 10.1007/s11013-011-9236-9

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artsREACH of REACH of Haywood County will abide by the International Expressive Art Therapy Association (IEATA) Code of Ethics.

The International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA) supports artists, educators, consultants, and therapists using multimodal arts processes for personal and community transformation. We provide a global forum for dialogue; promote guiding principles for professional practice, and work to increase recognition and use of expressive arts as a powerful tool for psychological, physical, and spiritual wellness.