Art therapy in Singapore is a rare commodity and is definitely a scarce resource through and through, especially more so, with the government considering Artists as non-essentials.
On this note, the future and outlook towards art therapists may seem bleak as well. Art therapists may use art as a form of therapy to allow their patients to express their emotions and connect with their inner self.
With all things said, let’s dive into a deeper insight on art therapy in Singapore.
What is Art Therapy?
Art therapy focuses on developing coping habits through a creative visual process, namely art. This can come in the form of drawing, painting, photography and in more recent times, digital art.
Art therapy can help those with low self-esteem/awareness as well as those who have experienced past trauma gain a better connection with their inner self and express themselves better. It also allows them to convey a message that they may not otherwise be able to express in words. The eventual goal is to help them integrate back into society and carry on with their daily lives.
In Singapore, there are still many, especially the older generations who are less receptive and ignorant towards mental issues that are prevalent all around. There is a social stigma towards those who have suffered from mental conditions and even turn a blind eye towards these mental conditions and attribute it to ‘all in the mind’. Mental health and awareness takes time to bear fruit, and we believe that this will eventually sink in, even among those least receptive boomers.
Every step goes a long way, and art therapy is definitely a helpful productive coping mechanism to help those suffering from mental illnesses gain a better foothold and understanding with their inner self thus enabling them to cope with their mental health better.
Advantages of Art Therapy
1. Art therapy allows the therapists to better understand the nature and emotions of the patients, from their drawings and paintings. For instance, by drawing and portraying their inner demons, they allow their insecurities to be seen and narrated from their own perspective.
2. Art therapy allows the patients to connect with their inner self. “Change starts from within.” Only by truly understanding and listening to oneself, whether in the form of a monologue or a soliloquy, can one express their innermost thoughts, feelings and desires.
Disadvantages and Limitations of Art Therapy
1. Art Therapy leans more towards therapy and self help rather than the arts. Most art therapists are not artists by nature, and their method of helping the patients may not necessarily be the most efficient practice. For instance, the aspect of art interpretation from getting the patients to doodle and pan down their thoughts.
2. Not everyone is comfortable with an art therapist hanging around, some might feel intimidated or overwhelmed. This is especially so if the therapist starts asking questions, and this may in turn deter them from future sessions.
3. Everyone is unique and different. What may work for one person may not be the same for another. There is no definite or quantifiable time frame that dictates how long one takes to heal from their trauma or emotional distress.
Ccmonstersart aims to bridge this gap through therapeutic art projects that enables anyone and everyone to express their feelings and add colours to their lives. We embrace and touch lives through our works of art as well as our art initiatives. We help each and every individual connect and gain a deeper connection with their inner selves through art, no matter whether you are experiencing mental distress or not.
Art is our beauty, our freedom and our solace. Art allows us to express ourselves and all of our raw emotions that may otherwise be difficult to share in real life. Allow us to share some of our therapeutic art projects by one of our artists – Celine Chia Hui Xuan.
For those who do not understand the analogy and deeper meaning behind this particular work of art, artist Celine Chia herself was at a low point in her life and she had contemplated suicide often. The freedom of expression helped her cope with the traumatic ordeal that she went through. She was always thankful for this getaway (through art). The following is a breakdown of this particular work titled ‘Fight.’
Significance of Therapeutic Art Project
The 7 penknives and 7 pencils (coloured) represent the 7 days in a week.
For any particular day of the week, each and every one of us has a choice.
Dye the canvas in black or Dye it with colours.Artist Celine Chia,2020
Pick up a penknife or Pick up a pencil.
Self-harm or Self-Love.
The choice is yours.
If you’d noticed, each and every penknife and pencil are all jagged and uneven. Moreover, the distance between the penknives and pencils are also uneven.
This is an analogy for the countless struggles and turmoils we have to endure every passing day.
The roads are uneven and the struggles (both internal and external) are very very very real. We could swing either way, and the possibility of a relapse is always there.
Nonetheless, if you keep striving forward, one step, one day at a time, there’ll always be a light at the end of the tunnel.
No matter how small the step, keep pushing yourself and keep on moving forward.
The pencil at the bottom is the longest, it amplifies the significance of progress, and continuing to choose it over the penknife.
Moreover, the pencils are also in the colours of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) and they’re an expression of the light at the end of the tunnel alongside our brand motto – Adding Colours To Life.
We have suffered. We have experienced. We have lived. So can You.
Try it. Take the first step. Take a leap of faith. You can do it.
Reach out. We are here for you. Art is here for you. Always.
This article was written alongside PGR to raise awareness about mental wellness and the resources and initiatives available. This provides a helping hand, especially towards the unheard in the community. Despite being intangible, mental illness is very real and early intervention with art therapy in Singapore helps path a road to faster recovery.