Im inspired to share with you the fact that i feel inspired! I have just had a wonderful Skype discussion with a colleague from the Flourish Foundation. We shared our experiences - mine from 1994 when I volunteered in Romania and hers from now, working with refugees in Ritsona in Greece. Please take a look at the website and support them as they offer all the people who find themselves as refugees in the difficult place of a camp, a space to be, to express and play and process some of the trauma they've experienced on their journeys.
In 1994 I was newly qualified and without work. When my friend Cathy rang, i was more than willing to help my friend out there already working in the orphanages. Those of you old enough to remember will readily recall the images we were shocked by on our TV's, as the Ceausescu communist Regime fell and the curtains were pulled back on the lives people were living and the terrible neglect of the orphans leaving them severely developmental delayed.
I went to work in a newly uncovered adult psychiatric hospital where the conditions were very similar to the orphanages. We were there from September to December and then having returned for Xmas and fundraising, again, January to March. In the depths of winter we walked the two miles out of town to the high-walled hospital every day with the other volunteers. Returning mid-afternoon before it got too dark and too cold, warming up on good conversation, hot bread and local rum. All the juxtapositions of beauty and horror that surrounded me during those months have sculpted me into the kind of therapist I am today.
I learned how to unite the ideal frame of what Id just been taught that Art Therapy is, with the reality of the context and people I was working with in the moment. It made me pare Art Therapy down to its essential bones and It changed me and my life from that point on. I am forever grateful for this experience and though 24 years ago, I reflect on it often. The learnings are deep within me and nourish my confidence and integrity as a therapist.
I will tell you more another time.