handsHagar is committed to the recovery of the whole person: ‘whatever it takes for as long as it takes to restore a broken life’. Creative Arts can be an important element in that journey; providing a mechanism for recreation and relaxation, and assisting our clients in their recovery journey.

For this reason we are currently implementing a new Creative Arts Project within Hagar Cambodia.

Our aim is to develop a wide range of activities that will be fun, recreational, to provide a space where our clients can come and just be children, to play, to enjoy new experiences, and perhaps discover something they really like doing. Clients who show aptitude in an area will have opportunities to further develop their skills to a higher level.

The positive benefits of this are two-fold. Firstly, there is skill development: being exposed to new experiences and learning new things. All of which will enhance life experience and, we hope, future opportunities for our clients.

Secondly, there is a much broader picture to the role of Creative Arts in recovery. These activities can help develop essential life-skills such as patience, perseverance, collaboration, learning to take risks, and developing problem solving abilities. Additionally, experiencing one’s own inner creativity can build self-esteem, self-confidence and pride among clients who often struggle with their self-worth.

The creative process itself can improve mood and become a meditative process, helping to reduce stress and anxiety. Indeed, one researcher has described it as “a natural antidepressant”. (1) Helping our clients develop methods to care for their own psychological well-being is a key element to building their resilience.

At this point it is important to make a distinction between the Creative Arts Project and Art Therapy.

The most regular use of the phrase ‘Art Therapy’ refers to the use of “art IN therapy”. In this model art is used within the therapeutic setting – either one to one or with a group – with a trained therapist for therapeutic purposes. In this model, art acts as a medium to help the counselee process their presenting issues. The containment and confidentiality of the therapeutic relationship is a key element to this work.

The Creative Arts Project is based in a different model – what can be termed “art AS therapy” – the underlying theory that creative activity is beneficial in and of itself. (2) We believe the opportunities provided through this Project will benefit our clients on many levels – educational, occupational, developmental and psychological – aiding them in their recovery journey. (3)


(1) “Creativity, Happiness and Your Own Two Hands. How Meaningful Hand Use Enhances Well-being.” Carrie Barron, MD. www.psychologytoday.com, May 2012

(2) “Art Therapy” en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_therapy

(3) Schmid T. Promoting Health Through Creativity. 2005 Whurr Publishers