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ART THERAPY

The Uniqueness Art Therapy Sessions in The Programme

Art Retreat Exchange Programme is an international and collaborative arts initiative that integrates age appropriate and developmentally relevant art therapy as part of a comprehensive and multi-pronged arts experience for children who have lived through the complex trauma experienced from Fukushima.

Art therapy is a recognized professional mental health treatment modality globally and has been used effectively with children. Singapore is playing a significant role in developing this discipline locally and within the region in ways that are culturally relevant and meaningful. Hence, one of the decisions to host the retreat in Singapore and in collaboration with LASALLE College of the Arts.

This innovative and life-changing arts retreat programme was launched in July 2014 with 8 children coming to Singapore. The MA Art Therapy Programme at LASALLE College of the Arts (LASALLE) has provided consultation, input, expertise, and supervision into the development of the art therapy component since October 2013. With the success of the first year, came further development and inclusion of the MA Art Therapy students who led a series of art therapy directives for 16 children in July 2015. To continue to provide the art therapy service in Japanese and to acknowledge the importance of cultural relevance, an art therapist from the MA Art Therapy Program from New York University (NYU) was invited into the project at that time. LASALLE’s postgraduate art therapy programme is the first and only of its kind in Southeast Asia, and the Art Therapy Master’s Program from NYU is one of the first institution to offer art therapy education in the United States.

Art therapists from LASALLE and NYU will be collaborating with the Today Is The Day, Ltd. (TITD) to create programs suitable for children participating in the Art Retreat Exchange Program. ‘Children Are Our Future’ from Japan will also be jointly working together to ensure the best treatment programs for the children.

Art therapy is a long-term 4A process of Acknowledge, Accept, Acquire, and Adapt. Each year, a total of 14 therapy sessions will be conducted for the participating children both in Singapore and Fukushima.

As the initiative is highly recognized and supported by the local Fukushima community due to the positive impacts from the previous years, the demand has been increasing through the years. More awareness has been created on the benefits of art therapy. Holistic approaches have been incorporated in Fukushima to also include families into the therapy process. Trust building among family members and rebuilding of the broken community is articulated through the therapy sessions. This year, we will aim to host 20 children for the exchange program in Singapore.

We aim to continually grow the program positive benefits with a similar budget in the years to come and exercise effective cash management practices to deliver quality art therapy programs for the increased demand of participants.

Singapore Red Cross Society’s involvement has been essential to make the initiative a reality. In line with the society’s mission, this initiative plans to be change-makers in the society to help children suffering from trauma to cultivate better appreciation and self-realization through art therapy.

The artworks produced from the Art Retreat Exchange Program will be exhibited and displayed at gallery spaces in Singapore and Tokyo in autumn after the children have returned to Fukushima. The exhibition will showcase artworks such as photography, pottery, drawings and paintings created by the children from the program. An exhibition will also be held in Japan to continue the engagement from the community and further amplify the initiative.

The program also aims to increase the public awareness of art therapy as a therapeutic intervention and profession in Singapore, Japan and New York. This will be done through exhibitions, social media marketing, collaterals and lectures in the 2-year expansion initiative; the parameters of confidentiality are carefully considered and the necessary consents and parental permission have been obtained in advance.

This unique engagement will have a longer and bigger positive impact for children with trauma from Fukushima