Connection, Expression for Survivors Emerge Through Art

‘I really have a belief in the power of the creative process’

An agent of healing is being explored through the creative processes of melting wax, needle felting and card-making.

Diana Primavesi, who provides peer support for an arts drop-in for women running at the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre (KSAC), believes strongly that art is a form of therapy.

Diana is a clinical counsellor and an expressive arts therapist.

The Expressive Arts Drop-in group is a collaborative effort between KSAC, the Peterborough AIDS Resource Network and the Elizabeth Fry Society. Women or those who identify as female are invited to attend the weekly art sessions.

“In my experience, and trauma can play a big role in that, people don’t have a sense of their own mastery in a way… because they’ve been violated. This provides an opportunity for them to experiment and explore and make choices.”

The program started in September 2018.

“We wanted to offer an opportunity for people to come to the centre and participate in creative projects,” Diana tells Electric City Magazine.

“I really have a belief in the power of the creative process to allow people to express themselves, to work through things and (gain) new insights for themselves and new learnings.”

A feature of the drop-in is the space it provides for much-needed interaction between members.

“So often people who have experienced sexual harm and have trauma-related symptoms become quite isolated,” Diana explains. “Part of this is to provide a space for people to gather in an environment in which they feel reasonably comfortable.”

Participants of the drop-in have access to a variety of art-making tools and the freedom to be creative and learn new skills, which can contribute to higher levels of self-confidence.

“In my experience, and trauma can play a big role in that, people don’t have a sense of their own mastery in a way… because they’ve been violated. This provides an opportunity for them to experiment and explore and make choices.”

Developing resilience is another goal of the drop-in sessions. Two aspects that contribute to resilience are a connection with other people and a sense of mastery and competence. The session fosters both of those factors, Diana notes.

It’s a true drop-in group, meaning there aren’t many restrictions. Participants can attend weekly or once in awhile and stay for the duration of the session or just partake in part of the group.

Those taking part don’t have to be a client of any of the participating organizations and aren’t required to register. There are not critiques or discussions of their work during these sessions.

The centre has a variety of art materials on hand and a particular art theme for each month. For instance, a recent theme was transformation and the medium was encaustic, which involves working with melted wax. Past activities have included needle felting and card-making.

Within that loose framework, there’s an option to participate in the project/theme for the month, explore other mediums and/or bring their own work. “It’s quite flexible that way,” Diana says.

The sessions run each Friday between 10 a.m. and noon at 150 King St. on the third floor of the building.

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