How COVID-19 made us seek connections across the globe

International Art Therapists Meetup Solace
First International Art Therapists Meetup 1 May 2020, organised by Solace Art Psychotherapy

With the rise of COVID-19 cases and many countries starting to go into lockdown, Circuit Breaker was shortly introduced in Singapore to minimise the spread of the virus. As art therapists working in the private sector, we felt overwhelmed during the Circuit Breaker and knew we needed support. We were curious about how art therapists in other countries were coping and hence started an initiative to invite art therapists all around the world to our first virtual meet-up.

Seeking connections and support gave us assurance and comfort in times of struggle.

Art therapists from the United Kingdom (UK), Netherlands, South Africa, Australia, and the United States of America (USA) joined us in our virtual meet-up. We were excited and the discussion took place organically. Most of us were in the lockdown phase and conducting online art therapy sessions were explored.

Many shared similar level of stress, confusion and discomfort surrounding the pandemic and level of confidentially pertaining to delivering therapy online. But with the encouragement and support from the group, it helped us look at the situation in a more positive light, and gave us comfort knowing we were not alone. COVID-19 has pushed our boundaries and made us come together to support one another.

Getting back to the grind.

As we entered Phase 1 in Singapore, mental health professionals were given the green light to conduct on-site therapy sessions. We took a while to prepare and make the necessary adjustments for onsite sessions. We ensured safety and hygiene protocols were in place – wiping down of high touch areas, temperature taking, travel declarations and SafeEntry QR codes for check-ins.

Shortly after, Phase 2 started and we thought it would be a good opportunity to check in with fellow art therapists how they are doing. This time around we had other new art therapists from USA, Australia and India join us virtually on our meetup.

International Art Therapists Meetup
International Art Therapists Meetup 20 June 2020, organised by Solace Art Psychotherapy

Embracing technology.

We were all in different phases and this virtual platform provided us with a safe space to share our thoughts and feelings about it. Deeper concerns pertaining to our art therapy practices in different countries were discussed and how we could move forward. Ideas on virtual art directives were also shared for those who were still conducting online art therapy sessions.

Despite our many concerns surrounding the use of technology, we also acknowledge that these meetups could only have taken place because of its’ existence. The experience has also made us value the power of connectivity and understand better how support can play an important role in times of stress. We hope to continue making more connections and grow together!