KOCHI: The dingy orphanage where he grew up in Europe would leave a lasting impression on Edmundo Dos Santos. While many in his circle succumbed to the various struggles that life had thrown at them, a young Santos found his calling there. The arts, which was a medium of expression in the school he attended, became his lifeline.
Soon, he was spending most of his free-time dabbling in art. Invariably, he found peace within himself. “ It set me free. Till then, there was a lot of emotion bottled within me. When I realised the power that art has in healing wounds, I decided to follow my heart and become an art-therapist,” says Santos who is in the city has been roped in by The Art Outreach Society (TAOS) and Street Heroes of India (SOI) to conduct several classes on the healing effects of art therapy.
In his latest workshop which will be held on Saturday, he will be using art therapy to empower women and help them overcome the pains and abuse they face in their daily lives. “ Sometimes, women are submissive, because they are afraid to show that they have a voice. There are many women who are victims of domestic and emotional abuse. I want these women to unlock their power to create a life of personal healing, success, creativity and happiness,” shares Santos. Women of any ages can participate at the function.
Santos who will be in Kochi till March 2017 has associated himself with several hospitals including the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and several orphanages.
Techniques of art therapy
“Unlike a psychogist who approaches the person as a patient, an art therapist treats the victim as an equal. I believe only one who has been able to overcome their fears and sufferings through art can become a good art therapist. We work in several sessions using sensitivity and aesthetics. In my first session itself, I make the person draw an image. From the art they draw, I am able to understand their mental blocks and the kind of pain they are undergoing,” Santos shares.
An art therapist does not point a finger at the pain. Instead, they help the victim find their own personal resources through which they can become strong. “ It was through art therapy that I became more confident about myself and the treasure hidden inside me,” he adds.
Art therapy can take place in individual or group sessions. These can last upto 60 minutes for one to one appointments or longer for groups.
Santos who has worked with cancer victims, patients who have suffered brain damage, prostitutes and also with children who are in the process of adoption, has been trained in several disciplines, including technical intervention and community education. He also has training in play back theatre.