Art therapist and ceramicist Glenda Stasse will start group art therapy classes in Geeveston and Huonville next week.
While art therapy has a long history, it is only in recent years that it has become an integral part of allied mental health therapy, and art therapists now work collaboratively with health profession- als, cancer programmes, in prisons, trauma relief teams, schools and personal growth classes.
“It’s just a lovely, gentle way of getting people to think about issues that they might not normally want to think about,” said Glenda.
“And it works in groups very well, because you get stimulated by the people around you.
“Of course, you have boundaries that you establish early on.
“Nothing’s talked about outside of the room, because sometimes things do come up and people might talk about something private.
“But I’m hoping that people might make new friends while they’re doing it as well.
“We’re going to provide some tea and coffee afterwards, and time for a bit of a chat.”
Glenda says there will be a range of mediums available for people to use, clay, pens, pastels, different types of paper, even collage.
“The main issue is getting people to get over the fear of their work not being good enough, because it’s not about being a great artist, it’s just about self-expression,” said Glenda.
“I’m hoping to be able to bring a wide range of art materials and get people to try things they haven’t tried before.
“People are not there to impress me, or their neighbour, or even themselves, they’re not doing something to hang on the wall necessarily.
“You can if you want to, but that’s not the aim.”
Glenda says an art therapy class can be beneficial for just about everybody.
“I think most of us have some trauma experience, the fires, for example, COVID for another,” she said.
“It might not be the same experience exactly, but most people can relate to other people’s trauma to a certain extent, because very few of us get through life without something quite devastating happening to either us, or someone around us.
“Being able to express that trauma is very important.
“People often just put a lid on it, and that just doesn’t help, you might think you’ve got away with it, but you haven’t.
“It needs to be addressed at some stage if you’re going to be able to move on with your life and make the most of your life.”
Glenda, as the art therapist, will choose a theme for each class, and participants will interpret the theme using whatever medium they choose.
With no pressure and no criticism, participants will then talk to their work and other members of the class will also be invited to have input.
“It’s really fascinating what other people see in your work that you haven’t really thought about,” said Glenda.
“I’m hoping it will be very enjoyable, but if anyone gets triggered, I might just suggest they take some time out for a while and I can talk to them afterwards.”
Glenda will also make referrals to other services if necessary.
The classes will be held on Tuesdays, in the Geeveston Town Hall between 10am and 11am and in the Huon Valley Hub, Huonville, between 1pm and 2pm, running eight weeks and supported by a Geeveston Progress Association grant and the Huon Valley Council.
Huon Valley Council arts and culture officer Miranda Wageman said that Council is pleased to support art therapy at the Huon Valley Hub.
“I’m really happy that Glenda is starting this programme, because I think there’s a huge place for the arts in mental health recovery, in people feeling better,” said Miranda.
Glenda is a registered nurse, has a Diploma in Visual Arts from TAFE and a Masters in Mental Health from the University of Queensland as an art therapist.