Friday, September 14, 2007
CAN ART BE THERAPEUTIC
CAN ART BE THERAPEUTIC?
As I walked into the portals of Bambino school and saw the children there drawing with a lot of interest, I thought it was all for fun. But as I spoke to the teachers around, I discovered that they were trying to help the children through art. Art was indeed being used as a therapy to help children overcome the problems and challenges they were facing.
“Art therapy is the therapeutic use of art making, within a professional relationship, by people who experience illness, trauma, or challenges in living, and by people who seek personal development. Through creating art and reflecting on the art products and processes, people can increase awareness of self and others cope with symptoms, stress, and traumatic experiences; enhance cognitive abilities; and enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of making art”, is how the American art therapy association defines art therapy. Recently three art therapists visited Chennai and had conducted workshops and seminars at various places. The host of the art therapy programs was the bambino educational trust led by Mrs. Devila Patel.
The three art therapists who were here to share their knowledge and expertise are Dr Judith Rubin, DR Gaelynn Bordonaro and Mrs. Sangeeta Prasad. Dr Judith Rubin has been in the field of art therapy for the past 44 years and has several books and films to her credit. Dr Gaelynn Bordonaro is the director of graduate art therapy program at the Emporia state university in Kansas. Mrs. Sangeeta Prasad, has done her masters in art therapy from the George Washington university and is presently working on a program to bring art therapy to schools in India.
“We use the creative power of art to help people with various kinds of problems, be it psychological, individual or family problems. Art is another language for people who can’t speak. Art therapy is the process of understanding emotions and ideas expressed through visual imagery” said Mrs. Sangeeta Prasad as she gave an over view about art therapy. The younger children have less of inhibitions and express freely. So the art therapists encourage a lot of scribbling. Art gives them an insight into the child’s mind and they manage to help the child move from scribbling to identifying pictures and writing.
Dr Judith Rubin came up with an example of a deaf child whom she treated back in the US. She said the child had just come back from the dentist and drew a picture of a mouth wide open. DR Rubin understood that the child is able to express herself through art and taught her sign language through art. “We look for indicators of development. Each child has a different process of doing art. We try and understand each one of them and help them accordingly” said Dr Judith Rubin.
Dr Gaelynn Bordonaro incidentally worked with the Tsunami children both in Indonesia and in the Andaman’s. She said “I saw a professionally taken picture of the sea with a lot of coconut debris in it. And I was surprised when a lot of children drew similar pictures of water with coconut debris in it when I asked them to draw their experience of the tsunami. But the worst affected children could not even express themselves through art.” She also had a chance to visit Chennai and meet some of the people affected by the tsunami.
Art is no doubt therapeutic and helps people with various problems. But not very artist is an art therapist. An art therapist should be trained well, because in art people want to jump to conclusions. “We need to readopt to reinvent” said a proud Mrs. Sangeeta Prasad as she looks to fulfill her dream of bring art therapy to schools in India.
SEMINAR CUM WORKSHOP
The bambino educational trust hosted an art therapy seminar cum workshop at the Savera hotel on 14th July 2007. It was attended by renowned art therapists Dr Judith Rubin, Dr Gaelynn Bordonaro, and Mrs. Sangeeta Prasad. The seminar was divided into two sessions- the morning session included talks by the three experts and the afternoon session included a workshop and question and answer session. The morning session began with an introductory talk by Mrs. Sangeeta Prasad. She spoke on the various stages of art in children and also on how they help them through art. She then gave an introduction about her dream house project where she goes to various schools and asks children to draw their dream house.
The next on the dais was Dr Judith Rubin. Dr Rubin showed clippings of art therapy films where both normal and special children were helped through art therapy. Dr Gaelynn spoke about her experience helping the tsunami affected children.
In the afternoon session, all the participants were given paper, crayons etc and asked to express themselves through art. This was followed by a question answer session.
The seminar on the whole was very informative and gave an insight into the field of art therapy.