Art Therapy at St Kilda and Dandenong

A painting with dark, claw-like hands emerging from an abstract, blue landscape. A yellow moon is in the top right corner.

Art Therapy is a special and much-loved part of Windana’s recovery program. We spoke with Sandra, one of Windana’s Art Therapists, to tell us more about the program in St Kilda and Dandenong.

“Creating art can be therapeutic and empowering, and helps to express your thoughts, feelings and experiences when words are not enough,” Sandra explains.

“Engaging in the ‘flow’ of being creative assists brain functions and increases the relaxation response. You can both ‘lose’ and ‘find’ yourself while being creative.” Painting, drawing, collage, the use of clay and other creative mediums and ideas are available for all programs.

Art Therapy is offered to clients in our Residential Withdrawal Programs at Drug Withdrawal House and Windana Youth Community House. These 2-hour sessions are held once a week.

“Many programs begin with a mini relaxation /meditation activity. The sessions are ‘themed’ and participants usually have a choice of two themes.  There is always a therapeutic focus and themes are designed around hopeful and helpful creative expressions.”

Art Therapy is also run as a Community Group Program at St Kilda and SECADA. These weekly sessions focus on enjoyment while engaging the creative process, expressing, exploring, relaxing and connecting with a supportive community.

“My focus in these sessions is on continued healing, personal growth and improved self-care. These groups are not directed by set themes but are therapeutic in approach.

The benefits for most people can range from having fun, learning new skills, feeling relaxed, calm and focused through to reinforcing new personal goals and strengths. Identifying and achieving greater self-understanding, self-discovery, personal challenges, expressing difficult life experiences and memories are supported by the creative work and the therapeutic environment.”

Clients often report how much they have “enjoyed art therapy”, “had so much fun.” Some clients even share “life changing” realisations by taking part in the Art Therapy Program.

“Many also discover hidden talents and skills or become so engaged in the creative process that the time passes without any intrusive and unhelpful thoughts disturbing the newly improved sense of wellbeing.”

Sandra’s passion for Art Therapy is no secret, and her energy and passion are evident in every session she runs.

“I love supporting unique art making and creative work, giving people permission to be heard and seen both visually and through conversation. Sometimes clients get to ‘see and hear’ layers and personal life experiences for the first time.

Sharing and supporting these new discoveries is truly amazing. To work this way, supporting clients in all their vulnerabilities is rich and rewarding work.

Having a strong and supportive community and sense of belonging is important for everyone. Art Therapy is a vital aspect of the entire service,” Sandra said.

Look out for another story soon about the Art Therapy program at Maryknoll Therapeutic Community.

See some pieces from Art Therapy at St Kilda and Dandenong below…

Art Therapy

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