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Art therapy sessions transform service users' lives
Service user Ena painting ‘Warm Welcome’ Art Therapist Chinyel with service users at Tall Trees
Creative programme improves confidence, self esteem and leads to employment opportunities
20th July 2010
A new programme of art therapy for people with learning disabilities and mental health needs has led to impressive results for service users in Bexhill.
Tall Trees, a specialist service for adults aged 40 and over, is the first in CMG to pioneer the artistic sessions. Art therapy, a form of psychotherapy that uses art as its primary mode of communication, aims to effect change and growth for participants on a personal level, in a safe and creative environment.
The programme at Tall Trees was created by Chinyel Afamefuna, a new support worker with an extensive background in art, who came to work at the service last year. Chinyel studied Textile Design both at degree and postgraduate level at Chelsea College of Art and Design and Central St Martin’s in London. She also has a strong personal experience of the benefits of art rehabilitation after nursing her father for nine years when he suffered from a stroke.
Talking about her motivation for her sessions at Tall Trees, Chinyel said:
“I’m interested in how art serves a powerful role in community settings and brings people together.
The sessions I give are arts and crafts related. I wanted the service users to experience how creating art can be a means of therapy. The therapeutic benefits they can gain in expressing their ideas artistically can help to build confidence and also gives a profound sense of achievement.
Art therapy opens levels of communication to the world for our tenants and helps to give them a stronger ‘voice’ with which to express themselves.”
Chinyel’s art therapy classes take place twice a week, with activities and methods tailored to each individual’s interests, development needs and creative strengths.
Within a year of running the project, there has been a marked increase in the confidence of many service users at Tall Trees. Ena, who has learning difficulties, has particularly benefited and art therapy has helped develop her self-esteem and enabled her to secure her first job in the local community. She feels more confident meeting new people and talking to friends, and has also taken on more responsibilities – for example taking care of her new cat, Jaspar.
Talking about one piece she painted recently, Ena said:
“When I was painting this picture I was thinking of warm colours because I wanted to give people a warm welcome when they come to Tall Trees. As I was blending the colours it was like learning to blend with other people.”