For confidentiality reasons, all the names used in our beneficiaries' stories have been changed.

Ana is a teacher who attended all The Red Pencil’s Train the Trainer (TTT) sessions and the open art therapy studio sessions during the mission in Lombok, Indonesia.

The art therapists found Ana to be an intelligent, artistic, creative, witty and bright human being, full of potential.

However, deep inside her, Ana was scared. She fears another earthquake and sometimes she has to run for the door with any earthquake-related sound, such as rocks pouring out onto the ground in the construction zone.


When Ana first started the TTT sessions, she was afraid of expressing herself using art. She was worried about being judged by other teachers on the “aesthetic” value of her artwork.

In her first attempt to create a scribble drawing, she was upset with the end product and called it rumput mati which means “dead grass" in English.

In her first open studio session, she was
more spontaneous but still judged her own artwork negatively, saying that she did not know how to draw objects well and the only way she knew how to make art was by making patterns and
textures (Fig. 1).

During the fourth session of TTT, Ana shared her feelings of being confused after looking at other teachers’ ways of depicting the mind bowl in a circle, which was different from hers (Fig. 2). In her mind, it would be a bowl with depth.

She was confused between what seemed right in her mind and others’ different ways of expression. However, she did not make any self-judgemental comments on her artmaking or artwork.


Although she was afraid of expressing herself in a group setting, the non-judgemental stance of art therapy provided her with a safe space. Over time, she became more at ease with making art in a group, as she realised that she was not the only one struggling with self-expression using art materials. 

The group setting now felt comfortable and safe to her, a space for freeing her mind, as she allowed herself to just enjoy exploring her creative side and the process of artmaking. She no longer felt the pressure to make her art perfect and described how the art therapy sessions had helped her to put her worries into a calmer, more positive perspective.

At the end of the mission, Ana shared that art therapy had a profound effect on her. She explained how it had increased her selfconfidence, making her feel less self-conscious about herself and less fearful of the judgement of others.