Diana (pseudonym) is a septuagenarian service user in a senior citizens’ home. Diana was one of the participants in an 8-session group art therapy program which targeted issues such as isolation and a general loss of interest in daily activities. The objective of the program was to create a safe space for meaningful engagement and sharing thoughts and feelings within a therapeutic setting.
Initially, Diana was seen to be hesitant towards artmaking. She would express insecurity and self-criticism such as “not good in art” and her works were “not nice”.
She was uncertain in decision making and anxious to create pieces that appealed to her standards.
Diana shared that she cried often and easily, and this was a sign of weakness (Fig.1).
The art therapist offered validation for her feelings and assured her of safety within the group to express herself.
The earlier sessions became a space for Diana to open up about her challenges at home where she had been feeling disconnected from her family for a while. As the sessions progressed, Diana was observed to be quick in artmaking, and even received praises from other participants. Even so, she continued to be critical of her own work.
In response, the art therapist came up with an activity that allowed participants to focus on the process of artmaking rather than the outcome. As a result, the art therapist noticed Diana appearing less anxious throughout the making of this piece compared to previous sessions.
Diana’s felt success sparked a budding confidence as she expressed enjoying the activity a lot and wanting to bring her pieces home to display (Fig 2.).
In the 6th session, though still anxious, Diana became more spontaneous in her artmaking.
She took ownership of her creation and seemed more flexible, transforming what might have been an unexpected problem into a playful creation (Fig 3.).
When completed, Diana was seen to be admiring her creation, which often
signals a sense of pride and achievement.
In the final session, participants were tasked to create a folder to keep their artworks. Diana chose to decorate
hers with some artworks from earlier sessions citing that they ought to be outside the folder in order to
be seen (Fig. 4).
She showed a sense of pride again
when requesting for a photo of her together with her artworks and even expressed interest in future art therapy sessions.
From a person who struggles with self-criticism and insecurities, art therapy gave Diana a chance to grow in her confidence to make decisions, problemsolve and express creativity, which translates to a widening of perspectives and an improvement in her self-image.