I’m Marthy from Luxembourg and currently I’m living here in Cochabamba. Since October 2016 I’m working on the project ‘Centro de Atención a la Mujer’, short ‘CAM’. It’s a shelter and support house for women who experienced physical, psychological, sexual and/or economical violence.

In January I helped Lisan to get in contact with the management of the house and ever since we organize twice a week Art Therapy workshops. Lisan makes the planification which I discuss with the manager of the house. Mondays and Wednesdays, from more or less 20:00 to 21:30 ‘Bolivian time’, Thirsa (the present Art therapist), Fabi ( a local volunteer) and me hold Art therapeutic sessions. Thirsa is a graduate Art therapist from the Netherlands who knows how to interpret the work and how to organize the sessions. We need Fabi because Thirsa’s and my Spanish are not perfect and it’s very important to understand every explication during the evaluation at the end of the exercises. And I know all the cases, the past of the women and their present situation.

At first the women were critical because they expected childisch exercises. However, after the first sessions the majority was surprised how serious and deep Art therapy is.

The fact that you can express yourself without words but with pure Art impresses me the most. During the exercises I notice that the women are on the one hand laughing and talking but on the other hand very concentrated. They really like the different exercises which are sometimes relaxing but can also be pretty challenging. After the session, we always have a small evaluation where the participants can explain their artworks.

In my opinion the results are impressive and it’s very intresting to see the link between their histories and artworks. I also notice that the women open up towards the other ones. This strengthens the group dynamics and shows that they trust each other.

The difficulties we are sometimes confronted with are for example the huge difference in age. Currently 12 women between 14 and 56 years are living in the house! Moreover, the histories and situations of the women are completely different. And on top of that, we never know in advance if new women arrived who are participating in the sessions.

I’m highly impressed by the results of the Art Therapy and didn’t expect this effectivity when we started! In addition the pragmatism, the competence and the tactfulness of Lisan impressed me a lot and I really hope her project will continue!

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