Following a successful Talitha taster session and one off festive special in 2022, for a 12 week duration running from January to March, Talitha Arts ran fortnightly therapeutic arts workshops at the Women’s Hub at the Maya Centre.
The Maya Centre
The Maya Centre is a community-based charity that provides free, culturally sensitive counselling, group work and complementary therapies. The 6 week programme was designed to spark joy, allow for self-expression, and build a sense of togetherness amongst the women who attended. The programme took on inspiration from the transition into the new year and the journey from winter to spring time. We used this notion to help inform our themes and journey throughout the programme.
Talitha at Maya
Each session had its own theme that acted as a through-line between the activities and gave focus to each workshop. Themes such as Growth, Nature, Connection, and Hope were incorporated with activities such as dance, movement, collage making, poetry and singing. We made use of physical movement, group based activities and more independent art based activities.
This integrated structure within the Talitha Approach ensures that our workshops allow the participants to be present in their bodies, present with the group and present in the ‘here and now’. This in turn, helps them to find a sense of freedom and flow with their creative expression.
The Creative Process
The creative freedom the participants demonstrated throughout our programme with the Maya Centre was clear to see; one participant stated
‘I feel as though I’ve danced inside my body’.
The women connected during the team building activities, laughing with one another, problem solving, and offering verbal support to each other. There was a real sense of playfulness created, as the women agreed they could
"set my adult self aside and let my child self speak”
and felt they had "permission to play" within the sessions.
Each session, as well as offering a space for physical group work/ activities, also offers an independent, reflective section, or "main event", where each participant takes the time for themselves to creatively express themselves through a piece of work that reflects themselves and their uniqueness.
The focus and thought put into their work was evident in our space for sharing. The participants shared openly and bravely about their experiences, stories and hopes for the future.
They discussed ideas of universal feelings and how they connected to their own experiences and thoughts. Talitha’s experienced practitioners and the other participants in the group ensured that they felt heard and understood during this section.
The creative expression and reflection shown throughout the programme seemed to become easier each week as they became comfortable with the process, each other and the team.
Freedom and Transformation
We witnessed a real sense of ease formed amongst the women who attended all or the majority of the sessions. As their comfortability grew each week, there was a noticeable shift in some women's confidence speaking, their physical engagement with the games/ activities and in the value of their own work.
Women who tended to apologise for themselves or put others before themselves, started to appreciate the space being just for them with no expectation of ‘right or wrong’. They were able to share more easily with the team and one another and let their emotions surface knowing they were in a safe space. Movement and dance, which initially was seen as a bit embarrassing or intimidating, soon became a means of freedom of expression and fun for the women. One noted,
"I am letting my inner child be free."
They became more confident working as a team and embellishing meaning themselves to the tasks rather than having to be prompted. They shared, laughed and connected with each other, providing advice, support and hugs to one another when they needed it. They let each other know it was safe to share. Overall the gratitude shown by the participants for the workshops was clear and their appreciation for a space for work on themselves amongst others was validated.
The Deeper Purpose of Talitha’s Work
Talitha conducts our therapeutic arts workshop programmes to allow for creative progression, not only independently but also cohesively. All of the Talitha workshops are for groups with a particular emphasis on building a sense of community amongst the participants. We incorporate the notion of community building throughout the workshops and activities to help each participant see their value both as an individual and also as part of a group.
The programmes thus lend themselves to trust, comfortability and community to be built. Talitha workshops are a chance to see and be seen, hear and be heard and to be creative and express oneself; together, as part of something bigger.
The workshops seek to empower individuals by giving them a creative space to form new perspectives and take ownership of their own stories and journeys ahead. Our programmes seek to empower individuals by giving them a creative space to form new perspectives and take ownership of their own stories and journeys ahead.