Expression through art “Expressive therapy” can be an important aid for those navigating the path of cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery, explains Clair Pinks who has a Masters in Counselling. “Art, music, poetry and movement” can help patients cope. In her sessions at Bloomhill Clair is focussing on art and says there is absolutely no experience necessary. “The key thing is that you don’t need any artistic ability, it’s about the process not the product.” Clair explains that art therapy can help Bloomhill clients with their sense of self, something that can be affected by a life threatening illness. “It’s a way of letting go of freeing themselves, an externalisation of an inner experience which can provide insight.” The group nature of the experience provides connection with others going through a similar experience and “validation through others’ stories”. “It shows them they are not isolated and alone.” She starts each session with a meditation, perhaps on the breath, teaching clients that if they become overwhelmed they have something that soothes them and can “self-support” Through art the aim is to find a connection with self. Clair asks “What is presenting itself? What is the experience for you right now?” The answers to her questions manifest in a choice of images, all within an environment where they feel comfortable and safe and which is totally confidential. In the session pictured, they had been working on a group collage. “They choose what calls them, what resonates on that day”. At the close of each session participants are invited to share their experience. They can choose whether or not to be part of this open conversation. Clair said feedback from her first series of sessions showed that participants felt “heard, validated and supported”. Class member Tong attended last year and is back for more. He said “people living with cancer don’t have avenues for releasing how they are feeling. It’s hard to explain to others”. Art therapy is “a great way to express yourself”. The art therapy sessions are funded by a philanthropic grant provided by the Crosby Foundation.