Therapeutic Art at Life Skills

A Genesis Trust client at a therapeutic art session. The woman is sitting and painting in bright colours with her fingers.

Art has long been a favourite activity at Genesis Trust. Regular Life Skills art sessions and workshops have covered techniques such as lino printing, pottery, watercolour painting and group collages. More recently we introduced a dedicated Art Space at Lifeline for visitors to enjoy simple, relaxing and creative activities such as drawing and mindful colouring supported by volunteers. During the pandemic we have continued art and animation sessions virtually through Life Skills Online via Facebook Live which has been a key way to keep connected with many of our clients.

Art can also be for therapy. Any type of visual art and art medium can be employed within the therapeutic process, including painting, drawing, sculpting, photography and digital art. Art therapy may include creative exercises such as drawing or painting a certain emotion, creative journaling or freestyle creation. It is not about being taught art or using art as a hobby. Rather the purpose is one of healing and helping people with their physical, mental or emotional problems, diseases or disorders.

It can be particularly valuable as an alternative to communicating verbally as images and models can represent experiences that are difficult. It can develop people’s self-awareness, boost self-esteem, motivation and work on social skills.

We recently started a Therapeutic Art course at the Gateway Centre for six clients in a COVID secure setting. After the first session, Sue, Life Skills Manager reported that “the atmosphere on Thursday was calm but energised.”  One participant felt that “lockdown can make you feel really down almost not alive. Being here, mixing all these colours, you feel free.”

“It was therapeutic to try and express how I was feeling today which is why I only used cool colours” was another response.

Art Therapist Lucy Baile from  Fern Therapies said “this art course opened my eyes even more to how moving and positive art, and creating, can be, using different art mediums in this therapeutic way. I was moved to see the peace it gave people and realising this is something that they may not feel very often. Absorbing themselves in art (their unique expressions) gave them a refreshed connection with themselves which led to a realisation of where they are ‘at’ and perhaps what they need. Indeed, they could see what they COULD do and this raised their self-worth.”

We are so thankful to be able to offer people Therapeutic Art and to help them to transforms their lives – “Sometimes I feel like giving up and then this happens! Wow!”