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A Creative Space For Children To Heal: The Children's Bereavement Center Of South Texas

The Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas is a non profit organization that was created to help children and young adults to heal from trauma and loss. It's now using art to help with that healing process.

The center offers a variety of free services, including grief support groups and counseling. The staff are professionally trained counselors who aim to provide unique care with each case. They provide in-person therapy as well as telemedicine, depending on the child's comfort level.

But this is no ordinary counseling facility. Upon entering the center, visitors notice the colorful artwork, textiles and the space itself — welcoming people who may be dealing with a crisis. It is furnished for the purpose of feeling comfort and safety in a new environment, to produce "a calming and a tranquil sort of an effect," according to Managing Director Blair Thompson.

A walkthrough of this 15,700-foot facility is filled with large art pieces by local painters Lucy Peveto and Brook Rosser. Not only is this center surrounded by art, but they use art therapy as a means to help the children express their emotions. There are themed rooms for music, theatre and even a movement room — which includes punching bags.

Jiawen Chen
A clap pot pieced back together.

In one activity, kids shatters a clay pot and decorate the inside to reflect their memories and innate oppressed feelings. Months later, they come back to it and reassemble it together, then write down any feelings of "positive sorts of things, (such as) friendship and joy and hope," according to Thompson. "The possibility that children's grief can be transformed" is the reason behind this activity.

Most recently, the center commissioned a creative company, SRO and craftsman John Coz, to paint a mural and install artistic glass tile flooring, inspired by the San Pedro Springs. The mural is 45-feet long and depicts a leafy forest with a lake. The patterned mosaic glass flooring includes animals of dragonflies, butterflies and squirrels.

Jiawen Chen
The plants and mosaic tiles.

At a closer glance, there is a metaphor behind the shattered glass tile. Beginning at the entrance to the finished mosaic of the tiles furthering down the hallway, this represents the "hope is that we can lead them along this path to a place of home and restoration again," explains Thompson.

The Children's Bereavement Center will continue to apply art as a source of healing throughout their therapies and it on the walls of their facilities as well. More information is available at the Center's website at www.cbcst.org

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Jia Chen is a freelance journalist and photographer for Texas Public Radio. She began with TPR working as the Bexar County selected Summer Arts Intern in 2021. Her coverage includes arts & culture, technology, politics, and more. She holds a BA in Communication from University of Texas at San Antonio and has lived in San Antonio for over 20 years.