INTERVIEW WITH FRANCISCA SOLAR
As simply as you can for the wider audience out there who do not have knowledge of arts therapy, please explain what it is and what it means to you.
For me, arts therapy means the use of all the arts modalities such as: music, dance, painting and sculpting, among others, to bring out in human beings the potential to develop their own resources in coping with life’s challenges.
How did you first discover arts therapy as a practice?
I discovered when I started a training program in theatre. I realised that acting and playing in performance settings helped me to recognise my skills and accept me as I am.
When did you first realise that you wanted to be an arts therapist? Was being an arts therapist your first career choice?
I’m a psychologist, and in the first years of my career, I realised that therapies based on verbal language are limiting for treating people who have emotional and behavioral problems and cognitive disabilities. When I was a young girl, I discovered the joy of playing with the arts. I have always enjoyed singing and performing so decided to connect my psychology background with expressive arts and started a training as an expressive art therapist.
What is the greatest joy, to you, about being an arts therapist?
I feel happiness when I observed the joy and the surprise in the eyes of the clients when they are doing art and when they make something that they become proud of.
What are some of the challenges you have experienced as an arts therapist?
Individual differences in groups because not all the members have the same rhythms of finishing an art piece so the faster ones have to wait for the slower members. Sometimes it is difficult for them to accept the differences and respect each other.
What are some common misconceptions about art therapy you have come across?
In general, people could think that art therapy is doing mandalas and releasing the stresses of the daily life. Also people have false impression that in arts therapy sessions we analyse the art work and use it to give verbal interventions.
How has being an arts therapist affected other aspects of your life?
My expressive arts training process opened up new professional perspectives for me. Also, engaging in artmaking every week gave me the vitamins to cope with difficulties of daily life.
“I feel happiness when I observed the joy and the surprise in the eyes of the clients when they are doing art."
“engaging in artmaking every week gave me the vitamins to cope with difficulties of daily life."
How did you find out about The Red Pencil?
A colleague went to Africa and told me about the great learning experience to be gained in a professional and personal way.
Can you share with us more about the greatest moment or most unforgettable experience you have had thus far working with The Red Pencil?
Facilitating simple games, particularly in the classroom of children with physical disabilities. I watched them laughing and enjoying the moment. Also, listening to the teachers having the opportunity to speak about the problems together and recognising their successful experiences. Another is the generosity of the school community in giving me and my coworker a warm hospitality.
Do you have any advice for budding art therapists out there who want to start this profession?
If you are an artistic person, put art in the center of your life. Just make art as much as you can. Release the judgment of your artwork. When you accomplish these actions and thoughts, suddenly you will become an artist for start becoming a therapist.
You’ve travelled to many different countries for your work. What is the greatest lesson you have learnt from these travels?
Understanding that arts is a universal language despite of the cultural differences.