Last November, the Canadian International Institute of Art Therapy (CIIAT) hired me to teach art therapy at the IPATT Institute in Thailand and it was a wonderful experience! I felt I was giving the students the most useful, and important tools and knowledge that I had gathered throughout my career!
The competency, sensitivity, accessibility and consideration of Dr. Patcharin Sughondhabirom (Dr. Jo), director of the Institute, made this experience very enjoyable and meaningful. Dr. Jo facilitated every aspect of the teaching and of my stay in Thailand. The translation in Thai, Dr. Jo provided, has been very appreciated by the Thai students. As for me, I found it created a very harmonious rhythm and it actually helped my teaching since I had some time in-between my sentences to reflect upon the next segment of teaching in English.
The students were interested and committed to learning and to working on themselves; this made the experience very meaningful for myself as a teacher. I felt I could bring them valuable insights about their own psyche through the experiential sessions, which I believe, are the most important and efficient way to learn art therapy.
The fact that I could teach art therapy and dream work as well as somatic art therapy, which were two specialties I devoted a lot of time to over my career as a psychologist and as an art therapist, also made this experience very meaningful for me as a professor.
Meeting with people from another part of the world, one so very different, has helped me learn about a new culture, a new way of relating and of seeing the world; it has been an enrichment of my whole life in many different ways. It also let me see in a clearer way the limitations of my own culture! It has enriched my spiritual life and I have been able to see that I am actually much more of a Buddhist in my values than a Catholic! I started meditating every day. It even enriches my knowledge of art therapy as I am now interested in learning about art therapy in Asia and especially about Buddhist art therapy. I have even more of an interest than before about mindfulness in art therapy.
I am already thinking about how I could design the experience next year to make it even more interesting and adapted to the unique needs of students of Thailand! Because I’m planning on going back!