My name is Neil Springham – I’m a consultant
art therapist and I’m also head of art therapy across the trust. And that means I’m
involved in both delivering art therapy as a
physiological therapy but also involved in social inclusion where it involves the arts.
Art therapy is really very much like it sounds,
its working with people therapeutically using art.
So someone would come into the room, make a piece of art, and we try and build up
communication through their art, so it’s a way of helping people to talk about things
that is hard to put into words.
My name is Ellet Ghorbani, I’m a service user – “Hello Ellet – come in..” – I
was referred by my psychiatrist for six to nine
months art therapy after I had psychosis. Personally I thought I was beyond help and
I was consumed by a lot of thoughts that weren’t based in reality.
The kind of people who would come to art therapy in the trust would be those people
who have quite serious and complex mental health issues. So that would be schizophrenia,
other forms of psychosis, quite serious depression and personality disorder.
Art therapy was something new for me, I had never heard of it. I knew from school time
that in my background in education I had some lessons in art but that’s all about it,
I never realised how effective or what kind of impact
it can have. Often people will have art therapy alongside
other interventions like medication or perhaps when they are working with a community
psychiatric nurse. Sometimes people have art therapy when everything else has been
tried, that’s been quite a pattern in art therapy. I
think nowadays people think of art therapy a little bit earlier for people, particularly
where they have serious communication problems.
Talking was the main thing that I couldn’t do very well at all, then especially, and
I was given a paper and I had different mediums
from pencil to watercolour to pastels which I quite
like, oil pastels especially, and I could sit there and the first few sessions went
by in a very quiet silent way because I was resisting to
talk. Gradually I opened up and it gave me a
window to talk about my inner world. I see my role as an art therapist as being
involved with treating people as a physiological therapy but also to think about
what comes after the treatment because that is
very important because people suffer a lot of isolation, a lot of stigma. I do a lot
of work going out to local arts organisations, in
a sense to make them more mental health friendly so
that they can take the people that we see, and actually people can have a life within
the arts and actually there is a lot of evidence now
that the arts can be very very useful for supporting people and giving a wider participation.
I’m glad to say that now a piece of my work has been published in a magazine called
Reflections. This is a fascinating job, it’s always different,
you know people are the most fascinating subject there is, and actually working with
the arts is just wonderful. A lot of what we do is
just trying to understand how to maximise the potential of the arts both as a physiological
intervention but also social intervention – what could be more interesting than that?
My art therapist was like a guardian angel for me, she brought the worst and the best
out of me in that period that I had with her during art therapy I had in that nine months,
and I came out as a better person thinking somebody
cared, somebody cared to listen.