During 2011, Art Therapy Without Borders will be featuring members from the Advisory Council as an opportunity to learn more about their work and some of the art therapy initiatives they are involved in that speak to this community’s vision. March’s spotlight includes Paul Lee Thiam Seng, MA:
(Paul) Lee Thiam Seng, MA is a Singapore born artist, art therapist, and consultant. Paul is the Founder of UniqArts and Technologies, currently in private practice and running workshops for institutions, group and individuals. Paul has experience with providing art therapy to individuals and groups with special needs, in the medical setting, and schools throughout Singapore. Paul is passionate about art therapy for enhancing wellness and health, as well as for positivity and happiness. He initiated the Positive+Happiness Art Therapy professional group on LinkedIn and implements this focus for corporate retreat programs, schools and institutions.
Tell readers a little about yourself and what your interests are in art therapy: Art is my passion. I am promoting a notion that prevention is better than cure. In addition, I believe in positive psychology as well and therefore, it is my interest to focus the use of art therapy to facilitate positive thinking and life styles. To me, it is far more useful to build inner resources rather than trying to open psychological wounds without healing. When a person is in trouble or encountering life crisis, he or she will probably be in need of these internal resources to cope with this crisis and to become stronger after the crisis. Without this pool of mental strength, some people might suffer from mental breakdown and illnesses. In addition, I am integrating art therapy into creativity training and corporate human resources development. By using art therapy to unleash creative talents of individuals and groups, it seems possible to heighten the unconscious level of human potential to improve quality of work and life. My interest in art therapy also includes the capacity to develop inner creativity to its full potential because art connects to our creative intuition. Since art therapy provides a tangible product of creative self; the capacity for post therapy, reflection, change, transformation and growth is enormous.
What do you believe are important considerations or emerging issues for the international art therapy community to pay attention to? To me, the international art therapy community will flourish further with a recognized standard education system that covers an agreed fundamental in art therapy training. Currently, it seems to me there are different versions of art therapy in foundation and beliefs. Furthermore, this seems to be diversified into other sub categories (expressive art therapy, sand therapy, play therapy, music therapy, interactive drawing therapy, photo therapy, etc.). It is therefore confusing to the public and lacks cohesiveness among the art therapy profession. It is probably one of the reasons why art therapy can not be well defined as a profession independently.
Another aspect for the international art therapy community that might be useful includes more clinical research to collect evidence about how art therapy works. It seems to me that there are many art therapy works written in a case studies format. In addition, also having clinical research with an international review board and a team with other health care professionals could be useful. This research could then be shared within the profession or even to the public to help increase understanding about how art therapy works.
What are some special art therapy projects you are working on in 2011? I am exploring funding and opportunities to do clinical art therapy research for cancer patients. There is strong evidence to suggest the potential of psychological healing through creative art therapy. Further research will need a prolonged period of study, institutional funding, and scientific analysis. I am hoping such research to be carried out to aid women with breast cancer in their healing and recovery journey. Potentially, it could help define the scientific healing in art therapy for patients as a form of prevention and recovery from battling from their cancer disease.