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Dy Shunda Peterson-Camper

Empowerment Through Expression:
Art Therapy with Victims of Chronic Gang Violence in Chicago’s Bronzeville Community

        According to newspaper headlines and daily news reports, residents of the Bronzeville area of Chicago have been plagued by gang violence. In October of 1993, in an attempt to rid Chicago’s communities of this pestilence, the former Superintendent of Police, Matt L. Rodriguez, proposed a strategic plan for reinventing the Chicago police department that was given the name CAPS (Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy). In support of the idea of community empowerment, I am proposing a marriage of two entities, Art Therapy and CAPS. The proactive citizens of CAPS are interfacing with violence on day-to-day basis and there is the ever-present reality of physical violence and/or mental anguish in their community. My goal is to address the mental health needs of these individuals who are under mental duress resulting from community violence through the use of art as therapy. This goal will be achieved through careful planning and implementation of eight weekly ninety-minute group art therapy sessions. Anticipated benefits are enhanced cognitive and artistic expression, increased self-esteem, increased problem-solving abilities, and the opportunity for both intrapersonal and interpersonal growth.


         Dy Shunda Peterson-Camper graduated in 1998 with a BS in Psychology and minors in both Fine Arts and History from Judson College in Marion. She has worked with adolescents at the Cook County Juvenile Court in the Juvenile Probation Department and gained clinical experience at Cermak Mental Health Services of Cook County, Department of Corrections, working with adults with mental illness.


Thesis Advisor: Terri Sweig, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Art Therapy

Thesis Reader: Maureen Wilson, Expressive Therapy Department, Cermak Mental Health Services of Cook County, Department of Corrections of Cook County





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