Spanish artist Andrea Tabernero finds herself to be the best example of the goodness of art therapy. She ventured into it seriously after her father’s demise sent her into a state of grief, with her questioning the meaning of life. That’s when expressing through art gave her direction and helped her tide over the rough times. Realising its potential Andrea honed her skills in the field and together with organisations SOI, (Street Heroes of India) and TOAS (The Art Outreach Society) in Kochi is holding workshops spreading awareness about this “first step” that addresses emotional aberrations like low self esteem, self confidence, confusion, anger and other personality related issues. “We are a network of artists, clinical psychologists and therapists providing training and necessary psychoanalysis and expressive tools to help people improve their emotional well being and deal with stress, empower them to become healthy members of society,” she says.
But Andrea cautions that art therapy is not magic but the first step. “Art expression will guide you but the real work has to be done by the person themselves,” she says about the process. The process does not require people seeking therapy to have any knowledge of art. It encourages them to draw, paint and express in any which way they are comfortable with. As they ease up with expression their drawings reveal underlying emotional complexities and heal simultaneously. “There is no competition here, no judgement and no evaluation, hence participants draw in comfort and freedom,” she says.
Andrea’s relationship with India began last year when she came to Dharamsala on voluntary work, teaching French. She fell in love with the country and decided to return. The opportunity came when she met persons from SOI in Barcelona who also work with children in Kochi and were on the look out for persons to help in the field. Andrea pitched in with art counselling.
An interior designer by profession and an artist she prefers to define herself as a human and a woman. Working with groups and people in India she finds that society is still “closed” emotionally, and women, especially, suffer the brunt of this approach. “People here are very friendly but have a closed mindset. Women suffer a lot from depression and sometimes abuse. There are a lot of taboos on them,” she says adding that this form of therapy is gentle and reassuring. The unfortunate aspect of seeking any therapy, she says, is the stigma attached to it. “People think one to be crazy if he/she is seeking therapy,”
She is against art being elitist and finds it to be a powerful means of exerting an influence that is liberating, reflective and moves humanity. “Sadly it is not used for this many a time.” This approach of using art for society she terms art social action.
In the next set of workshops in June Andrea plans to enhance the programme by putting up public art installations and engaging society in art and consequent therapy.
We help people improve their emotional well being and deal with stress; empower them to become healthy members of society