Clark-Pleasant teacher helps students express emotions


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Clark-Pleasant Intermediate school art teacher Lisa Durst has started a therapy program for students who are going through trauma such as divorce or are dealing with other kinds of grief. Art work Durst created during her training is on display at Benjamin's Coffee shop in Franklin, Indiana. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal


Clark-Pleasant Intermediate school art teacher Lisa Durst has started a therapy program for students who are going through trauma such as divorce or are dealing with other kinds of grief. Art work Durst created during her training is on display at Benjamin's Coffee shop in Franklin, Indiana. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal


When a fifth- or sixth-grader has parents who are divorcing or a family member suffering from a chronic or terminal illness, that can cause grief the student isn’t always able to talk about.

So an art teacher at Clark-Pleasant Intermediate School has created a program for those students to express what they’re feeling through painting.

Lisa Durst isn’t a therapist or counselor, so she doesn’t sit and talk with students one-on-one about their problems. Instead she meets with groups of students, gives them canvases and different colors of paint, asks them questions and has them paint their answers.

Durst might start by naming emotions or situations and having the students use colors to express their feelings about divorce, grief, depression or illness.

Then she’ll move on to more detailed assignments, where students close their eyes and picture a field filled with flowers where colors are all blending together. The students then have 10 minutes to paint their pictures, and most of the time the completed projects are a flurry of a dozen colors.

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