Creativity Workshops at Thérèse Casgrain Halfway House

For the last several years, the use of art for therapeutic reasons has experienced a gain in popularity.  In the hope of supporting this movement as well as our approach as a community organization, Fondation Solstice granted us a donation which allowed us to create an art workshop at Maison Thérèse-Casgrain. Since June 2005, more than 50 women have participated in this workshop that takes place on a weekly basis.

As Anne-Marie Jobin says (2002, p. 37), creativity is « putting the invisible in the visible … it is the manner by which we translate the subject that inhabits us » 1. For the women who participate in the creativity workshops, this process is encouraged through various artistic activities (individual and/or group) using a variety of mediums and materials :  clay, plaster, acrylic and oil paints, watercolors, elements of nature, material, etc.

Artistic creation involves all parts of oneself (body, thoughts, emotions, etc), encourages relaxation, openness and exploration.  As well, it is a positive way of communicating and defining oneself all while increasing personal reflection.

The creativity workshops seek to promote free expression by creating a place of sharing where each participant is welcomed according to her needs and is encouraged  to follow her own path.  The program encourages the participants to take time for themselves, listen to themselves and engage in self-expression, open themselves up to their abilites and their potential, develop skills, create personal objectives, etc.  Generally, the main importance is found in the journey that each woman makes before anything else, by herself and for herself.

The workshops are given by Valérie Descroisselles-Savoie. She is a Doctorate candidate in criminology at University of Ottawa. She also holds a Master’s degree in art therapy from Concordia University, a BA in psychology, and a certificate in plastic arts.  She has worked in the counselling field for several years with women in conflict with the law.  Her professional experience includes individual intevention as well as group animation in the halfway house and prisons.

1. Jobin, A-M. (2002). Le journal créatif : à la rencontre de soi par l’art et l’écriture. Montréal : Éditions du Roseau.