I have often mentioned the words “building resilience” as part of describing what S2C does. It is an important factor in helping people recover confidence and regain their ability to function in society. I know from personal experience that a mental illness can strip away your resilience, your ability to deal with new or unexpected situations, to cope with changes or stressful situations.
This week we had a couple of activities which demonstrated that. A lot of people will immediately question how a bit of artwork can do this. S2C works hard to create an atmosphere, environment of being safe and of community. We work very hard to make it a place where things can go wrong safely. Not only go wrong, but those things that go wrong can be accepted of adapted or even used in a new direction. This is recreating what happens in life but in a microcosm of safety and practise for that. Those leading sessions are acutely aware of how they are modelling behaviour. We demonstrate activities with openness and talk through what we are doing and thinking. We make mistakes, we get things wrong, things don’t turn out quite as expected but that’s ok.
If I am demonstrating how to create some type of art and it goes wrong, fine. If I became angry or destroyed the art work or stopped this would give the wrong message but by persevering or adapting and laughing it helps those in the group struggling to cope dealing with this kind of event to begin to accept that its ok to make mistakes and that you can recover from them or adapt or change without fear.
So imagine the horror when I announced we were doing portraits this week to the group. There are different people in the group at different stages of recovery. So some react with “ok, ill give it a go” while others react with ” I can’t do that”. Because its safe and because everyone else is having a go though everyone had a go and the results were varied but all unique and brilliant.
It reminds me of CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) where a therapist will attempt to change a particular behaviour by modelling, talking through and guiding people to develop a new behaviour. We are doing this with art. Its less obvious, it’s subtle and it is limited in the breadth of issues it deals with inside a large group but it is what many people need to get them on a road to recovering that confidence and esteem to face up to some real life challenges facing them.
It works. We see people develop and grow their confidence, take on more and new challenges and then go on to other places be it in education, volunteering or work. For some it is a very slow process of years, for other it may be months. We aim to be there as much as we can to support them.
Some of this weeks confidence builders: