In this article by artist Christine Jolly we gain tremendous insight about the rewards of being an art therapist and about the many benefits art therapy brings to people of all ages.
Christine obtained her diploma as an art therapist from the medical university of Lille and the Tours School of Art Therapy (AFRATRAPEM) and has cared for individuals and groups of various kinds: elderly and disabled people, reinsertion homes for women, young workers homes. She is currently working as an art-therapist with elderly people and am in charge of artistic workshops with children.
The artist grew up by the sea, on the Atlantic coast, which still influences her current paintings. She then traveled abroad, and moved to several cities in France and the UK. She currently lives in the Parisian suburbs.
Why I Became An Art Therapist
Since childhood, art has not only been a great source of enjoyment, it also helped me to deal with emotions, and understand my environment. Growing up, I would spontaneously use drawings in my diaries to channel my feelings, while also painting artworks aiming for aesthetic purposes. My frenzy for expression, led me to try out various art forms including painting, singing, acting and dance.
Another subject that matters to me is the well-being of humankind and every life form. That is why, at the same time as my daily job in marketing, I decided to start sharing and passing on my interests through workshops with various groups of people including adults and children living in poverty in India, adults and teenagers suffering from learning disabilities and teenagers on the autistic spectrum.
Being confronted with the suffering of others wasn’t easy as it mirrored my own wounds. It made me understand that I had to heal, especially before engaging more in helping others. Therefore, I chose to undergo an emotion-focused therapy and took part in art-therapy sessions.
All these experiences comforted me in the idea that arts could be a driving force in bettering a human being’s life quality by developing their potential, relieving and healing emotions, bringing them joy and by allowing their self-image and that of others to evolve.
Nowadays, I pursue two careers simultaneously; one as an artist (painter, singer and clown) and the other as an art-therapist with the view of working alongside health, social and medico-welfare specialists thus improving the patient’s well being.
How I Define Art Therapy
Art therapy implements all the virtues of art in all its forms (drawing, painting, collage, clown, singing, etc.) to better the patient’s quality of life and improve their perception of themselves. While it uses creative tools, the aim is not a beautiful art piece but the gratification, the engagement or even the expression of the taste and style of its author. Sessions can be individual or in groups.
What I particularly enjoy about art therapy is that the patient is an active participant of his care. I believe that each individual has its own answers and keys to happiness within themselves. Nowadays, we live in a mass consumption society that sells readymade concepts of a fulfilling life. While pursuing these models, many people get stressed out and even lose the connection with their true self and desires. This will affect their self-esteem and life as a whole.
My humble vision of the art therapist’s mission is to assist people to connect with their creative powers, their potentials and true self so that they will find ways to improve their well-being.
Some of The Benefits I Have Observed in My Art Therapy Practice
Through my art therapy practice, I have been working with a wide range of people: children, teenagers, the elderly (sickness, disability etc.). This healing technique can benefit to all the people on a well-being quest or suffering from speech, communication and relation impediments. Of course the patient must have the drive firstly to engage in an artistic activity within the frame of a therapeutic relationship.
Having experienced it myself, art therapy provides powerful tools of transformation and can enhance our quality of life in many aspects.
Working in nursing homes with people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, I usually cross the common room before going to my workshop. I have seen elderly dependent people sitting there, not talking just looking as if there were elsewhere… Then during art therapy session they would be laughing, taking pleasure in action playing.
Group experiences enables social interactions which strengthen the feeling of belonging to a community. When I was working in woman’s refugee, I found it really rewarding to see isolated woman feeling at ease, talking and creating art works that would decorate their new living space or be given to a child taken away, hoping to maintain the bond.
I believe that Art Therapy can give life purpose as people will find a source from which they can draw meaning for their life, for instance a taste for action, altruism, creativity, it may allow them to discover their own motives, etc.
“You Gave Me Love”
Moreover, all the achievements listed above will be true not only for art therapy but for many other aspects in their lives. Some time ago, I came across one of the woman in her fifties I had met in the refugee. She happily informed me that she had found a job in a school because she had felt confident enough to offer creative workshops with kids. Then she had added: “You gave me love.” I remember her at the first art therapy session when she had told me that she was afraid not to be able to do anything with arts…as she hadn’t painted or drawn since her childhood.
Visit Christine Jolly’s website www.christinejolly-artist.com
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