The Newcomer Art Therapy Project



ATI provides art therapy services to refugee adults and children living across the Triangle Area. We provide individual counseling to refugee adults at the Carrboro Community Health Clinic, and we also offer community-based refugee women’s groups, using the arts to help address complex trauma, increase self-esteem, and build social support. Most of our work with the refugee population is with students (K-12) in Chapel Hill/Carrboro and Durham City Schools. We currently provide individual and group services to about 150 refugee students each year.

Many of the children in our groups have spent their whole lives in refugee camps and most have had very little formal schooling. Art is a shared language that helps children communicate, build friendship skills, and address issues of acculturation. The images we have seen in these groups are a combination of cultures, landscapes, and symbols of war and peace. Art therapy is a safe way for participants to talk about their past experiences and the trauma that they may have endured. Art is also a powerful way to create images of hope for the future.

While our original refugee program, The Burma Art Therapy Project, began in 2008 in one classroom with 13 refugee children from Burma, we have since expanded this work to 18 different schools, currently serving students from over 24 different countries.

Through the process of art making and by sharing the images produced via community-wide art shows (with the permission and interest of our amazing clients, of course!), we firmly believe we can help build positive, lasting relationships between newcomers and host community members.

Watch a video about the Burma Project:


Read about the Burma Project in the news:

PRI’s “The World” Features Clients from ATI’s Burma Project“Karen Refugees from Myanmar

Find a Foothold in North Carolina”

ATI and Burma Refugees Featured in Indy Week’s Annul Manual 2012-2013

Carolina Public Health Article

Daily Tar Heel Article