About a month ago I was fortunate enough (thanks to my current jobs at SOKH and Dareling) to be able to attend Art Therapy workshops on Aruba. Fundacion Alzheimer Aruba had invited Prof. Dr. Robert Winter from the Lenoir-Rhyne University of North Carolina to give a series of educational and clinical workshops in Art Therapy.
It started with a lecture at the University of Aruba.
My fellow art therapist, Marleen de Valk and I, came in late, because my flight had been delayed. So Dr. Winter's lecture had already started, but I had no trouble following the topics he talked about. He spoke about most subjects that had been coming up in my life lately. From the macro- to the mini-cosmos. The spiritual. The symbols. The science. The cultural commonalities. The Developmental Psychology. The science behind the psychology. And much more. It was as if he provided, right there in the university's auditorium, the ultimate answer as to why art therapy works! To me it was as if he had explained the reason of man's existence! It felt as if he was talking about universal truths. And at the same time he also pointed to a clear path out of every human's misery.
In the next three days he continued to talk about the above subjects with much more detail. We learned about the symbols. And the reasons why those symbols are the same in every culture. We also learned, of course, that as an art therapist we cannot simply make statements based solely on the symbols in a client's artwork. Art Therapists need to have a holistic view of the client to be able to interpret the work correctly. It also depends on how well we can filter all the information and translate it into the exact truth about the client.
Every afternoon we, the participants, would make artwork based on a prompt he would give. Then we would discuss some of the work. Everybody, mostly non-art therapists, was impressed. And I think we all felt how special the experience was. After the first day and a half some participants left and others joined the group. At first I was kind of worried that the atmosphere would change. But it didn't!
At the end of the workshops each and every participant talked about the big impression and simple awe they now had for Art Therapy. They would recommend it to anyone. Some people, had experienced the workshops as a catalyst for old pains that needed to be healed. Not in a dramatic way, but in a gentle bubble of healing. That is the beauty of Art Therapy. Healing will only occur in the intensity the client can handle.
The whole experience had hit me like a meteor shower. Little pieces of universal light flying into my atmosphere at high speed. It had opened me up to a bigger consciousness and it left me wanting more. I was sad when it ended. I didn't think I would be able to continue my life as I used to know it. And I was right, driving home in my car felt strange, the bumps in the road felt weird. Even my 20 year old bed was just not right. What had happened?!
Dr. Winter and I said goodbye as if we were old friends.
And he is sure we will meet again.
In the meantime I'll be here in Curacao, driving my car over the same bumps to get to the same bed.