OBJECTIVE : South Africa has a high prevalence of sexual abuse of children and adolescents.
Among the numerous adverse consequences of sexual abuse is the difficulty survivors may
experience in developing a positive self-esteem and maintaining positive relationships. In a
low resource setting, an expressive art group intervention tailored for female adolescents who
have been sexually abused was implemented and its value explored.
METHOD : Six adolescents met for ten weekly sessions which included expressive art activities,
followed by reflective group discussions. The value of the intervention was explored using a
qualitative research design with limited quantitative data.
RESULTS : The participants reported that the group intervention relieved their sense of isolation
and contributed to their ability to express emotions and develop self-awareness. Participants
reported more positive self-esteem and improved interpersonal closeness. The intervention
helped participants to find new meaning in painful experiences which contributed to personal
CONCLUSIONS : The group dynamics, expressive art activities and reflective group discussions
contributed to the therapeutic value of the intervention. The expressive art group intervention
showed value as an alternative therapeutic strategy in a low resource setting for female
adolescents that have experienced sexual abuse. An experimental design could follow to
confirm the effectiveness of the intervention.