Art therapy teaches invaluable coping skills we can use for the rest of our lives

“Art therapy has been pivotal for understanding the role of expression in our lives and it’s ability to help process trauma and heal. I’ve recommended this to all of my friends.”

With thanks to generous donations from the CBH Group Harvest Mass Management Scheme (HMMS) and the Western Australian Association for Mental Health (WAAMH), MIFWA and Reflective Visions facilitated a series of art therapy workshops in Northam in 2021. These donations enabled MIFWA and Reflective Visions to deliver art therapy workshops to 185 people.

“I’m very happy with how the Creative Resilience Workshop Series turned out. I’ve been a mental health educator and group facilitator for over 15 years now, and although this series required a lot of work to plan and implement, I’m very grateful that I was able to share my knowledge and experience in a way that was gentle and yet so powerful for many of the participants.

Apart from having a huge range of art materials and great food for participants, I think three important factors contributed to the success of the Creative Resilience Series, and they can be summed up as in-person promotion, preliminary rapport building and supported engagement.

I travelled to York, Northam and Toodyay on a regular basis to promote the workshops. Meeting with government and non-government service providers, and local businesses to distribute posters contributed to word-of-mouth promotion and possibly contributed to the high attendance numbers. Given these workshops were free and open to the public, making a preliminary phone conversation an essential part of the registration process contributed to building rapport and motivating people to show up on the day. These conversations were also crucial in helping people to understand that they were not simply attending an art class and helped me to be for-warned of any mental health issues or life stressors people were dealing with.

Having an assistant at each workshop who was trained in mental health issues ensured that in the event a participant became distressed, which happened a few times, they were adequately supported by either myself or the assistant. The workshop assistants were invaluable in helping to create a warm, supportive and welcoming atmosphere and with the setting up and packing up of food and art supplies.

In the series, I combined various psychology and art therapy approaches to provide participants with the opportunity to reflect on key aspects of their mental health and wellbeing in a structured, positive way. The results were amazing, and the glowing feedback speaks for itself. Several people told me that they had learned invaluable coping skills that they would use for the rest of their lives. Participants really appreciated the relaxing art studio environment I created, and the large range of art materials provided. Participants also expressed how much they appreciated being safely guided through a process of gentle self-reflection and the opportunity to freely express the outcome in art as a symbol or reminder, which is what Reflective Visions is all about.”

A personal reflection by art therapist Paul K Davis

CBH Group Harvest Mass Management Scheme (HMMS)

The Creative Resilience Art Therapy Workshop series was funded by $25,000 donation from the CBH Group Harvest Mass Management Scheme (HMMS).

Developed by the CBH Group and Main Roads WA, the HMMS seeks to reduce the frequency of overloaded grain trucks during harvest. Under the HMMS, growers can forfeit grain from overloaded trucks, with funds from the sale of this grain provided to Western Australian charities nominated by growers and CBH employees.

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