Therapeutic Art workshop in Isla Verde


My parents’ visit wasn’t all beaches and board games. My mother is a registered art therapist who has worked in private practice, school, and hospital settings as well as teaching classes at the BC School of Art Therapy. She had asked me when she was planning the trip whether I could arrange for her to do any volunteer work while she was in Davao. Art therapy didn’t seem like the best fit for a maternity clinic, so I talked to my friend Charlyn about possibilities. Charlyn leads an NGO, Family Care and Community Development Initiatives, started by a local evangelical church to work with families in one of the poorest slum communities in Davao. She hosts the prenatal outreach clinic that I attend regularly in Isla Verde as well as many other health and education-related initiatives for this disadvantaged community. When I explained what my mother does and asked if maybe she could do an art therapy group session with the children who attend Isla Verde’s preschool or feeding program, Charlyn had a better idea: “Could she teach our volunteers instead?” So the plan was tentatively formed to have a introductory workshop on facilitating therapeutic art-making in early January. Charlyn thought there might be as many as 20 people who would be interested.

In addition to her work with the NGO and caring for her two children, Charlyn is also attending school to become a social worker. She talked to her professor about the planned workshop and the response was very enthusiastic, suddenly we had a large number of social work students (and their teacher) who were also planning to attend! We ended up with 30 participants after setting a firm limit on the number of students who could come because of the participatory nature of the workshop and space considerations.

When the kids went back to school, my mom and I started preparing materials and planning for the workshop (she brought the outside expertise, and my job was chauffeur, facilitator, and photographer!) This involved making large quantities of playdough, much to my children’s delight.

The multi-purpose community building where we held the workshop, in the Isla Verde Badjao village (on the right side of the walkway):


My mom teaching:


Enthusiastic participants:



Everyone got very involved in their art-making:



Hanging the art on the walls:



Very pleased with the certificates they received at the end of the workshop!


Charlyn and my mom:

IMG_2881The workshop was a great success and very well received. The students and volunteers had the opportunity to learn some basic principles for facilitating therapeutic art-making, explore how different art activities helped them express their own feelings, practice using active listening in discussing other participants’ art-work, and learn some simple therapeutic art activities that can be used with children or families. They will all be in a position to use these new tools in the future. It was fun for me to see my mom in action in her area of expertise and to have been able to arrange for a teaching / learning opportunity that would not otherwise have been available. Thanks to Charlyn for making it possible!


3 comments on “Therapeutic Art workshop in Isla Verde

  1. Deborah says:

    How absolutely wonderful! Thanks for sharing, Sora!

  2. Charlyn says:

    You and Robin made it possible too Sora. It was a teamwork 🙂 We made it all possible! And we are thankful to have received a training that is really relevant on what we do.

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