A new article, published in The Arts in Psychotherapy, describes the ways art therapy and mindfulness have benefitted refugees and asylum seekers in Hong Kong. The article describes how the program, Inhabited Studio, which provides workshops on art making and mindfulness meditation, has supported individuals in moving forward after traumatic experiences.
The increasing number of Syrian refugees has raised the issue of how to support the mental health of individuals who have fled their countries and experienced political violence. An estimated 11 million refugees have left Syria since 2011 and there are over 21 million refugees worldwide. Although the majority of refugees do not develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, mental health professionals working with refugees often use a trauma framework. The authors state: “It is true that we do not want to medicalize distress and that we cannot take it out of context, and yet we cannot ignore the disadvantaged situation in which asylum seekers live or the suffering they endure.”
Both art therapy and mindfulness have been used with survivors of trauma. This theoretical article “considers how the combination of art therapy and mindfulness in work with refugees acknowledges human suffering and traumatic events while at the same time recognises the resilience that exists and the search for healing, health and growth.”
The authors describe the ways art therapy and mindfulness have been combined to provide support for refugees and asylum seekers at Inhabited Studio in Hong Kong. Inhabited Studio is a short-term group program that uses a holistic approach and provides workshops over an 8 day period. “The presence of the group allowed for the individuals to be seen, witnessed and heard (even without words) and in so doing served to share and normalize behavior and expression,” write the authors.
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