Like many, registered art therapist Bonnie Stromer remembers the wildfires that ravaged San Diego County in 2007. She also vividly remembers a young boy she helped to forget them.
The boy was only 8, and Stromer says he’d just lost everything in the fires—his home, his toys and all his art.
“He had a lot of anger,” said Stromer, owner of Xpressive Arts Center in Poway. “Any time you’re going through a thing that’s hard to get through, art can help.”
Stromer says she provided a place where the boy could vent creatively, and watched as he began to let go.
“He remade a lot of the artwork that burned in the fire, and it just helped him work through the anger,” said Stromer, who also works at a Paradise Valley Hospital in National City where she offers structured and unstructured art sessions to the mentally ill.
Before she received her master’s degree in art therapy nearly 30 years ago, Stromer was given the opportunity to work in a classroom as part of the curriculum through her alternative high school. She says she decided to put together an art project for each of the classes, and has enjoyed teaching art ever since.
“You can work with any population,” Stromer said. “Art is a tool for communication, and it’s a very healing process as well.”
The Xpressive Arts Center provides a variety of classes and programs for people of all ages. For more information, call (858) 679-2787 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.