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Art therapy at Ocean Hills

Art as a therapeutic medium has long been used for people living with addiction and mental health issues.

But what exactly is it, and how does it work?

According to the Australian, New Zealand and Asian Creative Arts Therapies Association, art therapies are holistic – attending to emotional, cognitive, physical and spiritual well-being.

Because these therapies based on body awareness they can help our guests with trauma and increase resilience.

Mindfulness of art therapy

Ocean Hills Programme Facilitator Jan Ellis says the weekly process allows guests to “get out of their brain” in the mindfulness of creating art.

When guests are admitted, they are assessed by renowned Hawke’s Bay contemporary artist and qualified art therapist, Maggie Farr*.

Maggie will then prescribe a piece of art especially for the guest, based on their circumstances.

“It’s about connecting to self and taking time to focus on something else – there’s quite a lot of processing that goes on in art,” says Jan.

She adds that the process is peaceful, with minimal engagement and talking.

“Maggie doesn’t encourage that – she gives them space.

“There’s also a lot of subconscious breathwork that goes on. There’s not usually a lot of talking with others during the sessions.”

Subconscious healing

“Often they’re not really conscious about what they’re doing or what the benefits are at the time, but they do find it really relaxing.”

Self-judgment and self-esteem are often improved through the exercise, which is held in a casual and peaceful environment, says Jan.

“Beforehand, people are always very critical of their own ability. They’ll say, ‘I can’t draw’ or, ‘I’m no good at art’.”

But afterwards they are quite proud of what they’ve achieved and want to carry on doing it.

Weekly sessions

Art therapy is a weekly session for guests staying at Ocean Hills, which is included in the programme of recovery.

Equine therapy, yoga therapy, counselling and education sessions are also part of the programme.

To find out more about the Ocean Hills programme of recovery, contact our admissions manager Elaine Atkinson for a confidential chat on 027 573 7744.

*More about art therapist Maggie Farr

Margaret-Mary's artistic career began in 1981 when she embarked on a four-year international training period at 'de Wervel' Academy for Artistic Therapy and Fine Arts in Zeist, Netherlands. Once graduated in 1986, Margaret-Mary, worked as an artistic therapist and art tutor, before founding a school for Art Therapy in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.

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