by Katja Stiller, Person-Centred Creativity Development Worker
Participants in a recent programme of Person-Centred Creativity workshops were invited to create a model out of clay, using a memory from a time when they felt strong in their lives. The intention behind this workshop, beyond fun and creative expression, is to draw awareness of positive achievements, strength and coping mechanisms.
Often we see only the illness and label. Recovery, mental health and wellbeing is about emphasising the parts of ourselves that are still there, strong and un- affected; noticing and focussing on our strengths improves how we feel about ourselves.
In another workshop we asked participants to make a collage of what keeps them well. Too often we are more aware of what makes us ill and or feel bad. Whilst collecting the images and producing the art work participants say that they become much more aware of how important these breaks are and how they consciously need to make time for them in the future. Knowing what a safe place looks and feels like, makes it easier to return to in times of stress.
Some of the participants shared their feelings about the models and artwork they created with us:
‘I Am Not My Illness’
“This wall represents both my strength and my weakness. It is a visualisation of a mental wall. It separates my real self from my illness. My wall is thin and needs to be constantly supported or it might collapse.”
“I created the swan because my brother is in Cyngnet Hospital and I have to be strong when I go and see him.”
‘Can’t Catch Time’
“I was somebody’s child and kisses. Now I am nobody’s kisses. I feel like I am a wild flower growing old. When I was young I was strong and wild like a flower that grows out of its pot. I am now everyone’s flower.”
‘Because I Can’
“No matter how tired, exhausted and down I can keep going for my boys, they are my catalyst, my love, my light. At first I pretended to be strong, now I know that I am.”
“My strongest attribute is that I am a good mother. My children are my great- est achievement and I am proud that they are well balanced individuals; they ￼conquered so much in their lives. All five children are my entire world. When I look at them I know that I have done something amazing.”
“This is my moment of strength. I am saying no to this exercise, as I don’t want to touch the clay! (This is big for me as I am just starting to learn how to say no)”
‘A Happy Memory’
“My sculptor represents the first time I held my baby. It made me extremely happy.”
“My sculptor represents a deep empty hole. I am fighting my way out, from a dark place. I am starting to see my way forward. I am building my strength for the sunshine to shine through the holes.”
“I found using the modelling clay exercise very therapeutic as it transported me back to a time in my life when I was 18 years old and left my home and family in the Welsh Valleys for a job as a Nanny in London. At this time in my life I was quietly confident and so positive about the exciting journey I was about to embark on.”
We have had excellent feedback from these Person-Centred Creativity training courses, which we can tailor to meet the needs of a wise range of user groups, from Social Care Worker staff teams, Community Artists, Health (inc. Mental Health) Workers, Voluntary and Public Sector Workers, and mixed groups. This feedback gives us proven evidence that this training, which we have developed over many years, gives participants a positive learning experience as well as personal and professional development tools. The areas that participants tell us they have found useful include: understanding the relationship between creativity and wellbeing; innovative working; experiential group work; creating safe environments, and designing, implementing and evaluating creative pro- grammes.
“Most useful were the activities and the whole ethos of the course, the way we can implement it into Person-Centred Care Planning.”
“Will implement!! Would like all my staff to do this course too. Completely useful.”
“At present I work in the community. It will support myself supporting Service Users to have positive activities.”
For more information about our Person-Centred Creativity training courses, or to book a course for your group or organisation, please contact our Director, Alex Bowen, or Melissa Thomas, PA, at: [email protected] [email protected] or call us on 01656 729246.