When the Art Therapists’ Association Singapore (ATAS) began in 2008, there were only 10 registered therapists. According to the Straits Times, that number tripled in 2013 and continues to increase as more people become aware of how effective art therapy can be. Various hospitals and organisations throughout Singapore are requesting art therapy for people with physical challenges or mental disabilities.

A Growing Demand

ATAS president Yesmin Chan explains that some of the registered art therapy providers have begun working part-time at hospitals, just to meet the demand for art therapy sessions. Some hospitals that are entering the realm of art therapy include Singapore General Hospital and KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

The Many Variations of Art Therapy

The whole point of an art therapy programme is to enable patients to express themselves. They use various media— painting, sculpting, ceramics, fiber arts, and sketching— to express inner emotions and deal with complex feelings. Ms. Yen Chua, an art therapist and an artist herself, explains that “aesthetic results are secondary.” The primary focus is the therapeutic effect of creating something new, something that taps into moods and deep feelings.

Art Therapy for Traumatised Individuals

Among those who benefit from art therapy sessions and workshops are victims of traumatic events, such as the families wrecked by Japan’s Fukushima disaster, or the people affected by Super-Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. After a catastrophe, victims may be left without adequate words to express the depth of their trauma and their surging emotions. With art, they can find relief through self-expression. Art therapy is particularly helpful for children in these situations. They may find it hard to talk about how they feel, but through art they can identify and release the negative emotions.

Art Therapy for the Disabled

For disabled individuals, like those with cerebral palsy, deafness, and other issues, art can take the place of verbal expression. Someone who struggles physically with forming words and expressing thoughts can let out their emotions and thoughts through painting or sculpting. The Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore pursues art therapy for its clients, and in 2013 a group of these individuals had their first art show at the National Library.

The Cost of Art Therapy

While many private art therapy sessions involve a significant cost, some art therapists also do volunteer work, providing their skills to less wealthy patients. Some of the ATAS therapists offer their services in nursing homes or in welfare organisations.

Art Therapy in Singapore

Promoting art therapy in Singapore has been difficult in past years, since the culture tends to associate therapy with severe mental illness. With time, and with the growing success of these programmes, Singapore citizens may come to view art therapy as a valuable resource for anyone who needs an emotional outlet. It’s a step forward for better mental health in Singapore.

If you’re interested in pursuing art therapy, visit Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic. At our beautiful offices, you’ll find caring, experienced Singapore psychologists and psychiatrists who can help you deal with trauma, mental challenges, and other issues. Art therapy is just one of the many resources and treatment options available at Adelphi; so contact us today to begin your journey to better mental health.

News Feed from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic

Source: Straits Times, 27 November, 2013