April 15, 2024

First day of Art Therapy Conference in Abu Dhabi

Art therapy, alongside music, drama, dance, and movement therapy, offers the invaluable advantage of expression without words. The MENA region’s pioneering Art Therapy Conference, themed “Empowering through Creativity,” launched its inaugural edition in Abu Dhabi with a spotlight on art’s transformative influence on trauma.

The conference, organized by the Abu Dhabi Center for Sheltering and Humanitarian Care – Ewaa, an affiliate of the Department of Community Development (DCD), hosted distinguished experts who cast light on the far-reaching applications of art therapy, techniques, and strategies in addressing various forms of trauma.

A number of dignitaries were in attendance including Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of DCD, His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi; Her Excellency Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; His Excellency Hanif Al Qasim, a Board Member of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD); and Shaista Asif, Cofounder and Group COO of Pure Health.

“Art has been a fundamental form of human expression throughout the ages, surpassing cultural boundaries, languages, and backgrounds. In its many forms, it has the remarkable ability to convey emotions, experiences, and narratives that words alone often fail to capture. As the founder and supporter of this conference, I am deeply honored to emphasize Ewaa’s steadfast commitment to creating a profound impact through the therapeutic potential of art,” said Sarah Shuhail, Director-General of Ewaa in her opening address.

The visionary speakers who graced the opening day offered an insightful journey into the world of art therapy. They shared their experiences, expertise, and methodologies that had led to transformative outcomes for individuals and communities alike.

On the first day of the inspiring conference, Dr. Awad Alyami from King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, delved into the journey of art therapy in GCC while also highlighting the challenges in its development. “The concept of art as therapy is as old as human expression. The Arabian Peninsula is no different from other cultures in using art for healing and wellbeing prior to ideological enlightenments.”, commented Dr. Alyami.

In addition, Carol Hammal, a distinguished expert from Egyptpresented a program developed for women exposed to violence. She expounded on its development in Egypt as well as the role of collective trauma in establishing it. She revealed, “Over 70% of adults report exposure to trauma in 24 countries according to a World Mental Health Survey initiative. Hence, we introduced a 4-Day Intensive Art Therapy Intervention that combines both existential and psychodynamic approaches. Art is used as a process to understand emotions, address and externalise trauma then achieve resilience.”

On the other hand, Chris Storm, a Sensorimotor Art Therapy Specialist, shared insights into how sensory stimulation through art-making processes using hands could enhance contact and connection with oneself, providing self-nurturing and relaxation.

Elaborating on this approach, she said, “Sensorimotor Art Therapy has emerged in recent years as a term to describe body focused psychotherapies that use a bottom-up approach. It encourages the awareness of the implicit felt sense; how the muscles and viscera, the heart rate and breath shape our sense of being. With this heightened awareness of the embodied self, as you touch the clay, for example, it touches you. As you move your body, it moves you. Motor impulses and their sensory feedback define the core relationship of ourselves with the world.

We can support Sensory Stimulation through any art-making process with the hands. It enhances contact and connection with oneself and provides self-nurturing. For example, the sensory connection with clay provides soothing support.”

Besides a number of intriguing speaker sessions, the conference featured two workshops, on Healing Trauma with Guided Drawing and How Client-Led Spirituality in Art Psychotherapy Can Support Trauma Work? There was also an exhibition on-site with nearly 100 artworks created by survivors of trafficking, violence and abuse.

The opening day of Ewaa’s Art Therapy Conference was a beacon of inspiration, shedding light on the therapeutic potential of art as a powerful tool for mental health, personal growth, and self-discovery. This transformative event brought together experts from various corners of the globe who had explored the life-changing effects of art therapy on individuals and communities.

Art therapy, a practice that transcends linguistic and cultural boundaries, is rooted in the belief that creative expression has a unique ability to heal, empower, and provide solace. Ewaa, as the driving force behind this conference, is deeply committed to harnessing this power to create a lasting impact.

Last Updated on 6 months by Middle East News 247

    Middle East News 247

    Middle East News 247

    Middle East News 247 delivers the latest business and lifestyle news and essential infotainment for, and from the Middle East region, with key focus on the GCC nations: United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman.
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