-by Rebeca Alguilar Walkley-


Art allows the unspeakable to be spoken.

– Artwell Art Therapy

This young lady never had much care from her mother, who spent a lot time in a psychiatric centres. Her violent stepfather took care of her. On top of that, her recently born son was diagnosed with a heart problem and desperately needs surgery. Without the support from any family member this is a huge weight on this 17 year old’ woman’s shoulders. During the 7 months at the shelter she has become more responsible and extremely passionate about her studies. Through the art therapy workshops she has also transformed creatively; from a numb and restrained artist into a free spirited, emotionally conscious and expressive creator.

During the course of the art therapy sessions there has been a visible difference in the way she expresses herself as a person opposed to herself as an artist. As a person, she is very introverted (shows little emotion and shy) but as an artist she is a complete extrovert. As an artist she manifests her emotions, thought, feelings, dreams, and qualities in colourful and bold ways through the means of art and experimentation. It is only when explaining to the group that the strong charactered person hides and a shy and self-conscious person explains the work of the artist. This quiet person almost undermines the bold artistic persona as she never expresses full satisfaction with her work.

After 7 months of joining the art therapy sessions, she painted a colorful and strong canvas, naming it ‘La Fuerza’ (The Strength). She explained that the artwork is a reflection of her lack of strength. She expressed how she was not sure if she had enough strength for the difficulties she might face in the future. This was referring to the hard situation with her son, and her unsecure future with no family support. One of the girls in the group gave her positive feedback to her explanation, telling her she is much stronger that she actually thinks. Initially she spoke and reacted with little emotion, however, with the response from the other woman all of a sudden she broke; her voice became emotional and her eyes welled up. Most importantly she continued sharing her worries with the group and it was clear she was comfortable with it.

Due to her troubled youth she has never truly been able personally develop and grow. During the past 7 months, thanks to the art therapy sessions, she began her journey of self development and for the first time she became the centre of her life. The art therapy took her through the process of discovering hidden emotions and be able to express them through art as well as verbally.