The Art2Healing Workshop 2

The 5 day follow-up Art Therapy & Trauma Recovery Training was organised by The Art2Healing Project from 11-15 Nov. 2011. As I wrote in the previous post about my experiences of participating in Creative Art Therapy Workshop 2010, this time again the nature of the training was completely participatory and experiential.  Most of the participants had participated in the previous workshop.

The 5 day workshop proceeded thematically starting with body and closing with the wholeness of self in relation with trauma healing. We discussed how the trauma affects an individual on the various levels and why it is important to help in a holistic approach that differs remarkably from the diagnostic approach. We explored various techniques of helping persons suffering trauma through art therapy. This was all done practically in group works.

Art Therapy is a form of psychotherapy in which the therapist and client work together using art for the therapy. It helps an individual to express the feelings, perceptions and imagination on the paper or in an art form for the healing purposes. According to American Art Therapy Association, 1996, “Art Therapy is based on the idea that the creative process of art making is healing and life enhancing and is a form of nonverbal communication of thoughts and feelings.” One of the benefits of using art in the therapy is that the problem or situation is externalized and dealt with in a objective manner which helps to bring  back the sense of power and locus of control to the client.

Various exercises were practiced during the workshop related to each theme which helped the participants to explore different components of the self that are affected during trauma and understand the processes involved in trauma healing.

Lydiadefined trauma as, “The inability to be in the here and now. Trauma is about loss of connection-to ourselves, to our bodies, to our families, to others, and to the world around us.” Then talking further about trauma she quoted Peter Levine from his book In an Unspoken Voice, “Traumatic symptoms are not caused by the event itself. They arise when the energy, mobilized to meet an extreme or life threatening event, is not fully discharged and integrated. This energy remains trapped in the nervous system where it can wreak havoc on our bodies and minds.” A little theoretical presentation in the training was related to how trauma affects our nervous system.  The effects on nervous system and the responses of triune brain was discussed which was very interesting. She mentioned how the cognitive behavioral psychotherapy used by psychologists might fail to help the traumatized clients because it deals only with the neocortex which is rational brain involved in higher cognitive functions and gives little attention to impact upon lower brains (limbic and reptilian).

We also practiced transforming closed thoughts of the client in a solution-focused approach.Lydiadid a demonstration of how to do it with one of the participants in form of role play. This role play had a therapeutic effect upon the participant and helped her to deal with her own trauma.

There was a great emphasis upon giving back the sense of power and locus of control to the client in order to facilitate the haling process. This is done by being simply present with a client, or actively being an empathetic witness to the client and gently supporting the client in the process. Clients have to be encouraged to feel empowered from within to heal.

The workshop took place at Shakti Samuha Shelter, Mandikhatar.  There were 21 participants consisting of counselors, art therapist, and other staffs from TPO Nepal, ChangeNepal, Saathi, Aasha Sudhar Kendra, AashaNepal, CAP Nepal, BiswasNepal, Autism CareNepaland me representingTribhuvanUniversity.  Lydia Tan, founder/director of The Art2Healing Project facilitated the workshop.

Once again I would like to thank Jamuna Maharjan Shrestha, clinical supervisor and senior counselor from TPO Nepal for inviting me in the workshop and organizing it so well. And Thanks to Lydia, talented art therapist, for sharing her knowledge and skills in the workshop.

The Art2Healing Project is a non-profit, creative arts therapy organization based in Asia that is dedicated to assisting and empowering individuals at risk, particularly women and children who are victims of trauma.

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