Every Monday after Isla’s Art Therapy session she rushes out of class to show me what she has created.
It may be a kite with some string, a card to her teacher or a painted rock.
They are treasured pieces take place on her top shelf in her wardrobe but then are quickly forgotten about and never referred to again.
None of the work she creates is that artistic in the traditional sense but it is the process behind it that is most important.
It is all about discovery and curiosity.
It may be exploring an idea and creating it through the various art materials. Or exploring the materials. For example using paint and working it in different ways to create stories and patterns.
Isla will often collect items from home and take them for her to use at art. She may take an egg carton, discarded shoe boxes or save some could be art material before it goes into the recycling.
She really enjoys the hands on work, creating pieces to bring home.
However, Art Therapy isn't just about expressing herself through her art
It also provides a safe environment for Isla to practice social skills.
Having highly trained therapists to guide her and like minded class mates to share with she is in the best place to succeed.
From what the therapists tell me she is learning how to connect with her class participants and work alongside them.
She has opportunities to practice managing her emotions whether it’s happiness or frustration.
She learns how to start conversations and show newcomers to the group the way to participate.
Isla has been attending Art Therapy for many years and it is definitely a highlight of her week.
I have never sat in on a session. I don’t know exactly what goes on in that room but I do know a lot of magic happens with her wonderful therapists and class mates.
I have tried to recreate this at home collecting various art materials but I cannot get Isla to engage.
I have come to the realisation that Art Therapy is so much more than making art and is something we can not replicate.
When asking Isla what she likes about art.
She says "It is fun and I can see my friends. I can do anything that I like and I don’t get told off". What more could a girl ask for!