Amanda’s Easel is a free creative arts therapy program designed to help children ages 4-14 and their non-offending parent heal from the effects of domestic violence, strengthen self-esteem, develop coping skills, improve parent-child communication, and break the cycle of family violence. Small group and individual sessions are led by Master’s level therapists in art, play, drama, and music therapy, and counseling, case management, and support services for the non-offending parent/caregiver are also provided.

All of 180’s programs are free to those in need.  Please support Amanda’s Easel program and help stop the cycle of violence.  A gift of any size would be greatly appreciated.

How does family violence impact children?

Children are the silent victims of family violence. They often cannot express their feelings about traumatic events in their lives using words alone. Children who experience the stress of living in a violent home often display negative behaviors, such as hitting, throwing tantrums, crying, becoming quiet and shy, or showing signs of:

  • Poor impulse control.
  • Verbal or physical aggression with peers and/or family members.
  • Low frustration tolerance.
  • Feeling sad, depressed or anxious.
  • Physical complaints without signs of sickness.
  • Poor school performance.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Acting too old or too young for their age.

Cindi Westendorf and Laura Greenstone legacies live on through 180’s creative art therapy program. We appreciate their immense contributions to the formation of Amanda’s Easel.

What services does Amanda’s Easel offer?

The program is led in small group and individual sessions by Master’s level therapists in which children are encouraged to share their feelings in a safe and nurturing environment through:

  • Art Therapy: Families are encouraged to express themselves in a studio setting through drawing, painting, and sculpting. The creation and discussion of art can increase self-awareness and teach survivors how to cope with stress and traumatic experiences.
  • Play Therapy: Utilizing therapeutic toys and games that promote safety and healing, including sand trays and puppets, children problem-solve and communicate complex feelings in ways they often do not have the words to express in an environment designed for families to develop.
  • Drama Therapy: Applying theatre and acting processes, including storytelling, movement, character creation, and creative writing, families explore a variety of dramatic expressions to assist in their exploration of interpersonal relationships, problem-solving, expressing feelings, and telling their story in a way that feels safe.
  • Music Therapy: Using musical experiences, including improvisation, singing, songwriting, composing, listening, and music-assisted relaxation, families grow towards healthier patterns of thinking, forming relationships, expressing their feelings, and managing stressors.

How can Amanda’s Easel help parents?

Children recover from the effects of domestic violence in direct response to their parent’s healing. By attending sessions focused on parent skill-building and comprehensive case management services, non-offending parents gain an understanding of how:

  • Domestic violence affects a child’s development.
  • To recognize post traumatic stress symptoms.
  • To cope with divorce, separation, and loss.
  • To deal with the changes in family status roles, practice new skills, and cope with issues.

How do I enroll?

The non-offending parent can call our Hotline for more information and to enroll.

We gratefully recognize…

  • Amanda’s parents, Ron and Karen Wengert, and the Friends of Amanda Foundation for partnering with us to create this program.
  • Our generous individual and group donors, including The NJ Department of Children and Families, for their contributions in making this program free.

Amanda’s Easel proudly cares for those in need.  One of the parents in our care shared:

 “I can see a real difference in my child’s response to anger, and her using the tools she is learning. She was able to express herself through creative art in a way that words could not achieve.”

180 Programs & Services