Featured Practitioner: Reena Clare, Art Therapy

by The Mind Faculty

Complex emotions require a complex response. For those of you not in the know, art psychotherapy combines talk therapy with art. This mode of therapy adopts a doing-thinking-feeling approach. It gives you a different medium to explore your thoughts and feelings. In an art therapy session, our art psychotherapist, Reena Clare, will help you explore different issues such as grief, dementia, anger and children with special needs.

This is particularly useful for those who find it hard to articulate their feelings.

We sit down with the fabulous Ms Reena to talk about our favourite creative expression therapy:

What inspired you to choose art therapy? Were you artistic as a child or was there an ‘aha!’ moment?
I found it a unique way of communicating and was very interested in the way in unveilsthinking and feeling from a unique angle

What is your favourite medium to work with and why?
I enjoy using batik dye. The results always surprise me and it is delightful.

 You are a certified practitioner in Children’s Accelerated Trauma Treatment (CATT). How can art help us to heal from trauma?
Art help gives a special language to trauma that may not be easy to talk about: it may be challenging to describe or that we may not yet understand. For some, using art  can make talking about this trauma feel safe. CATT uses a arts-based method that is a adaptation of the ‘rewind technique’ – which is used to assist the recovery of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) that has symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety.

Are there any simple ways that we can introduce art therapy into our lives? 
I recommend an art journal. Anyone can start this on their own. Get a sketch book with no lines just plain good empty paper. It can be big or small enough to carry around. Date your entries and avoid tearing any page, even the ones you are not happy with – at most, cross the page. In this you can doodle, draw, paste images, write, scribble – do anything – no rules – you can say anything – no restrictions. Make use of symbols for thing your feel are too personal to explicitly put down. Take away the pressure of filling up a whole page or making things look ‘nice’ – just let it flow.

What has been the response to creative arts therapy in Malaysia? Where do you see it in five years? 
Clients have responded to it very well. Initially people are not sure if is only meant for children or those who can draw, however once they experience a session, they will realise that age and art ability are definitely not barriers to benefiting from art therapy.

I expect there will be more and more awareness of what art therapy is and what it can do. I hope to see art therapy exhibitions more frequently held as it will and empowering form of sharing. Now I can see some pioneering cooperate companies, health organizations and educational institutions engage art therapy, and in 5 years this will increase as it reaches the masses.

Ms. Reena Clare has a Masters in Art Psychotherapy from the University of Hertfordshire. She is a qualified Art Psychotherapist and a certified practitioner in CATT. She has worked in London with various clients including those living with mental health diagnosis, special needs, bereavement, dementia, addiction and physical health conditions in the NHS, Westminster Arts, Kids Company and The European Reminiscence Network. She has sound experience working with children and adolescent on various art-fronted projects.