MARINA CHONG, SINGAPORE

Marina Chong was one of the 7 women caregivers / parents of special needs children invited to attend a support group focusing on using arts to help their well-being and self-care. The sessions were held once a week for 9 weeks in Singapore.

Marina is the mother of an autistic son in primary school who, due to an incident that took place in the past under her supervision, is currently living with his grandparents.

Marina thinks that her in-laws do not like her much and is afraid her son will think the same way. She doesn't think he misses being with her.

She was afraid of not being a “good mother" to her son. 

Marina was friendly and open. She trusted her group members and therapist. She also showed signs of depression, stress, frustration and sadness.

The therapist began the sessions by saying, 

“Self-esteem issues are very common among women."

Women need to focus on improving their individual skills, sense of self, to help boost their confidence.

The group was asked to create an art work that showed an environment where they felt most comfortable.

Marina’s happy place was her bed, a peaceful place where she could sleep, and escape the stress of her professional and personal life.

The hearts show her need and desire to receive and give love.

Marina then took a deep breath and took new risks with the art material.

She started using chalk pastel and it made her feel happy and relaxed.

Marina was smiling joyfully after several group members complimented her on her vibrant and enthusiastic artwork.

At this point in the sessions, Marina began gaining confidence, and this was thanks to one particular moment.

As groups started to form, and heads stared down at a blank sheet of paper, the members did not know where to begin. What to draw?

Marina took the lead. She picked up green oil pastel and began moving her fingers around the paper, creating branches. The rest of the group followed, creating leaves, and flowers.

Had Marina not drawn the initial stems, they wouldn’t have been able to make a beautiful picture like this, the group members said.

When the therapy sessions first started, Marina was stressed and reluctant to create art works. 

As time went on and her confidence became stronger, she also grew happier.