Art Therapist Laura Segan on Arts Therapy online during the coronavirus outbreak

Laura Segan, Art Therapist

At a time which can feel quite uncertain for people all over the world, I feel honoured to be able to support young people who may be struggling with their mental health. This moment is challenging for everyone in different ways.
From the changes brought about by schools closing and home educating, to the challenges of maintaining routine in a time of global crisis, to changes in income for families and uncertainty about when things will change again.
For some young people, change to routine can be very difficult to adapt to. It can add to fears and anxiety. For me, being able to offer a safe and supportive space for young people to be creative and share their concerns feels increasingly important at this time.
Maintaining the consistency of therapy sessions on a weekly basis, means that we can provide some stability in young people’s lives. One of the best things about being an Arts Therapist is that fostering creativity is a big part of the work we do, and it can be so helpful in managing anxiety.
Adapting to working online has been a challenge, but one that we are quickly getting used to. We are offering online video sessions where young people are invited to be creative, either through art-making, games or play. We talk about anxiety, depression and offer a space for creativity.
I make sure I have lots of art materials to hand and ask my clients to bring some to the session if they have them at home. Young people can make art themselves, or I can offer guided art-making activities for them if they are feeling stuck. I also offer art activities for us to take part in together if they would prefer this. The sessions are a time for young people to use in whichever way they would find most useful; talking, making, playing, the sessions are guided by them.
We have also been given funds from the Devon Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund to prepare and send out 50 art packs for the young people we support. This is really exciting for us, as we are so aware of the benefit of art-making for wellbeing. This will mean that the young people who we are working with will all have a variety of art materials for use in sessions, and during the week in between appointments.
I am grateful that my work with the charity has been able to continue online during this crisis. We can continue the work we currently do and are expanding the offering at the moment to directly respond to the coronavirus crisis by planning and delivering a series of anxiety focused Arts Therapy sessions. These will be blocks of 8 sessions and could cover themes such as understanding anxiety, mindfulness, grounding and many more. We will tailor each set of sessions to individual young people and make sure that there is plenty of time for creativity.
This is a time of upheaval for so many of us. I am happy that I am able to offer a space for young people to explore it safely and creatively.
For more information about sessions please email info@youthartsandhealth.org