This blog post is the first of three in our brand new series called ‘Creative Counselling’. We will be looking into the effective ways our ministry partners around the world are helping people to overcome trauma. First up, creative counselling using arts and crafts.

Happy New Year! As we begin 2022, I wonder if you are starting the year with any resolutions? I have never been a fan of giving things up, but much prefer the idea of taking things up, particularly new hobbies or activities. I greatly admire my sister-in-law who completed her target of reading 52 books in 2021! And my friend from university who taught herself graphic design and video editing.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a sharp rise in people taking up arts and crafts hobbies such as knitting, embroidery and painting.

In fact, after the very first lockdown, retailer HobbyCraft reported that their online sales increased by more than 200%! I probably contributed to that, as back when most of my life seemed to be on Zoom, I enjoyed dabbling in watercolour painting as a way to relax and have time away from my computer screen.

WorldShare’s Administration and ChildAid Officer Clare Hill is an expert crafter! She can often be found knitting during her lunch breaks or on her days off – she makes the most gorgeous cardigans for children. When I asked Clare what motivates her to knit, she said this: “Being slightly hyperactive, I have found crafting, and especially knitting, very helpful to calm my busy brain. I can use my need to do something to create something beautiful and useful.”

Arts and crafts have long-been considered effective forms of therapy, both informally, as a hobby at home to escape the worries of everyday life, and formally, as a way to treat various mental health problems.

Mental health charity Mind outlines six benefits of undertaking formal art therapy:

  • It allows people to communicate thoughts and feelings that they find difficult to put into words
  • It helps people make sense of things and understand themselves better
  • It gives people a safe time and place with someone who won’t judge them
  • It helps people find new ways to look at problems or difficult situations
  • It helps people to talk about complicated feelings or difficult experiences
  • It gives people a chance to connect with others.

Art therapy

Beginning of Life, one of WorldShare’s ministry partners, was founded back in 2000 to respond to the most acute challenges of Moldovan society such as social injustice, generational poverty, and sexual exploitation. One of the projects it runs is called the 'Psychological Art Studio', which provides art therapy to adults, teenagers and children who have faced trauma in their lives, as well as those who suffer from loneliness, depression, anxiety or domestic abuse.

The studio runs a whole range of activities including individual counselling sessions, group art projects, self-esteem workshops and occasional art exhibitions. All these opportunities help vulnerable individuals to process their struggles, whilst teaching them new skills and empowering them to succeed. Not only that, as a Christian organisation, Beginning of Life also weaves the Christian message of redemption and restoration into all it does, ensuring that people know their worth and are given hope for the future.

There are many amazing testimonies of lives transformed through the work of the Psychological Art Studio. This quote from Natalia, a lady supported by Beginning of Life, paints a picture of the difference their work can make:

“… the course of therapy helped me to turn inside out what was deep inside of me and brought pain and disappointment out…”

If you can see the value of creative counselling and would like to donate to this important work, you can do so via one of our Freedom Gifts. For £15, you could purchase the gift ‘Art Therapy’ and help to fund a session for one of the women Beginning of Life serves.

So next time you sit down to watch TV with a knitting project, or have a go at some card making with your children, or finally get round to using those acrylic paints you got for Christmas last year, be sure to enjoy the therapeutic nature of the activity.

And while you’re there, please pray for WorldShare’s ministry partner, Beginning of Life, as it uses creative counselling to help heal traumatised hearts and minds.

By Emily Hobbs, WorldShare’s Marketing Communications Assistant