Art Therapy Group for Refugee/Asylum Seeker Women

Art Therapy Group for Refugee/Asylum Seeker Women 2017-07-21T12:37:06+00:00

refugee groupWho would benefit?
Women newly arrived in this country or having lived here for some time, but who have experienced trauma and persecution in their country of origin and are unable to move on with their lives.

Experiences of persecution and trauma may have resulted in overt symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder such as recurrent nightmares, insomnia, flashbacks, panic attacks, anxiety, depression and dissociation.

For some a sense of alienation and isolation within a new society may be seriously compromising their ability to integrate and trust others. Less specific, but equally disabling recurrent psychosomatic symptoms that remain undiagnosed in nature, may also require constant GP support. All these disabling consequences of emotional/physical trauma need addressing and working through in a safe, confidential therapeutic environment in which trust can be slowly regained allowing hope in the future to be present once again.

The Therapeutic Environment:
The Art Psychotherapy Group itself will take place in the comfortable and safe surroundings of the London Art Therapy Centre. The art room is a large fully equipped creative space. The environment in general is located in a residential road, an environment that may feel pleasantly different for women who will have faced many institutionalised settings in their time in this country.

The Art Psychotherapy Process:
Art as therapy was first recognised as an effective response to trauma both emotional and physical when wounded soldiers returning from the 2nd World War who couldn’t put into words their distress, started to draw and paint as a form of relaxation and found their symptoms of shellshock (now PTSD) reduced in intensity and duration.

Art Psychotherapy is a recognised form of therapy within the NHS and included in NICE Guidelines. For those who either feel it impossible to find words to adequately express traumatic experiences or for those whose first language may not be English, visual expression can convey profound emotion in a safe and contained manner. It may also not feel safe enough to speak about profoundly traumatising experiences and art can offer a safe, containing alternative

The Benefits of Being in a Group: 
For some, one to one therapy would be too intense and intimidating. Women coming together in a group, gradually sharing experiences with one another can be therapeutically beneficial on a number of levels. Isolation with a propensity to ruminate on repeated patterns of thought and remembering can be self-perpetuating and self-destructive. To participate with others in a safe, socialised environment allows for a feeling of mutuality to develop decreasing a sense of isolation and alienation from others. And not least through creative involvement there can be a sense of pleasure and aliveness in the activity itself. Women can also feel isolated culturally – to share experiences with women from different cultures can also reveal similarities in emotional life that we all share rather than remaining separated by particular cultural circumstances or events.

Assessment process:
For some, one assessment meeting will be adequate in identifying particular areas of emotional distress which need addressing and working with. For others, more than one meeting may be necessary in establishing a sense of joint endeavor and trust in the nature and process of therapy.

Referral Process/Funding:
Primarily, from GPs and other sympathetic organisations who will recognise the therapeutic benefits of this group. For GP referrals in particular, now that funding has been devolved to GP commissioning groups, considerations of cost effectiveness in alleviating repeated  GP  visits  and  persistent  re-prescriptions  for  tranquillisers, anti-depressants and physical pain medication will be a practical consideration. It is also hoped that Mental Health Services within the NHS who may not have this kind of resource in community settings will recognise the benefits of this group particularly at a time when services are being reduced.

Regular updates of the therapeutic process with the referrer organisation will take place. When deemed necessary other agency contact/involvement will be recommended.

Group Details

Initial Assessment meeting: £50. Referral/Assessment process: 1 hour meeting to be arranged as convenient

Group cost: £45 per 2 hour group. Reduced to £35 per session for a block booking of 12 sessions or more. (Advance payment only)

Maximum number in group: 8 participants

For further details please contact:
Frances Walton Tel: 07918 671031
Jackie Staite Tel: 07586 450140


Sessions Facilitated by: Co-therapists – Jackie Staite & Frances Walton

Jackie Staite & Frances Walton are BAAT and HCPC registered Art Psychotherapists, who have extensive experience of working in NHS mental health services, charitable organisations and therapeutic communities in the independent sector.