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Empowering Women, Changing Lives
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Art/drama therapy

Linda Irving is a qualified, registered practicing art psychotherapist currently working in the field of severe and enduring female mental health. Previously she worked within the substance misuse team at Styal Women’s Prison covering female mental health issues relating to families and children through a lifestyle of living with addictions. Linda has also worked providing group work in the field of structured daycare for a substance misuse service. Her time is currently divided between employment as an art psychotherapist, working as a practicing artist exhibiting work and offering training, community work and psychotherapy sessional work.

The art therapy group at MASH is available on Thursday afternoons between 12.30 and 3.30pm for clients to attend as a drop-in facility where they can have access to a wide range of materials and art mediums. This introduction to varied art techniques has a focus on female orientated craft based projects such as silk painting/batik, crochet and knitting, felt making techniques, sewing and beading, card making, brooch making and the possibility of joint projects where a collective of people will work together on the same project to produce one piece of work for display/s.

Linda offers many other art forms such as painting including acrylic and watercolours and makes demonstrations around soft pastel work and oil crayon work on projects including still life and portraiture. Clay work can be achieved without the use of a kiln as newer materials available to the market such as self hardening clays/resins can be used to make 3D sculptures. Most activities can accommodate individual and group requests widening to writing and poetry to enhance projects including as an example, gallery visits and working with art in the community. This potentially provides a wide creative forum for a sense of ordering of experience with each other and a sense of cohesion and ‘belonging’ to a special group where the experience of belonging becomes unique in a socially supportive way.

The aims of providing this art therapy service are in the main to use these art processes to form an attachment through which self esteem and empowerment remain the focus of the aim of the project as a whole. The women, through making positive, achievable tactile art images and products will gain a positive sense of self.

Through achievement in art making it is possible to raise a persons self esteem and confidence even if the process remains non-verbal because it is often the internal sense of self that is potentially the source of resistance to positive change and through art making a sense of self is achievable.

By attendance at the art group, these women may be saying that they want to embrace some change in their lives; they will have the facility to expand their knowledge base in creative projects, be enabled and facilitated to achieve personally. It is almost as if anything is achievable and this can sow the seeds of potential change in most other areas of their lives.

Picture Framing at MASH

Pete Whitely who runs our picture framing sessions describes what they’re about:

Picture framing sessions run every Friday afternoon and they are suitable for just about anyone.  Many women frame pictures from art books and many bring along pictures of their own (such as pictures of their children or family).

Many women say that they find the sessions fun, relaxing and absorbing.  As well as learning something new, they also get to take home something of their own that they can hang on the wall.  It’s good for building up confidence and there’s usually a good crowd to have a chat with.  If service users ever express a reluctance because they think wouldn’t be good at that sort of thing, please reassure them that they will be fine.  No skills, expertise or aptitude are required.  I was rubbish at woodwork at school (and I still am) but the tools and materials make it easy.

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