Contributed by: Tatiana Rasco

Step into the world of therapeutic arts! Led by expressive arts therapist Greta Hedley, this four-week workshop series became a beacon of self-care and growth for caregivers in our community, providing them with a mental and physical space away from everyday concerns and responsibilities. Each session used different forms of art, such as painting, sculpture, movement, fabric, and poetry as a therapeutic tool. The beautiful thing about expressive arts therapy is that it’s not about creating a masterpiece – it’s about the journey of creation.

As a mom to two wonderful boys, one of whom has Cerebral Palsy, Greta understands firsthand the challenges that parents caring for loved ones with disabilities might face. Through her personal and professional experiences, she’s seen how the expressive arts can help people work through difficult emotions. Greta has supported refugee students in Surrey Schools by fostering a safe space for them to process trauma through the arts. She co-facilitates “The Resistance Clubhouse,” a monthly get-together where young adults with disabilities socialize and learn practical life skills. Greta also runs a private practice, HeART, in East Vancouver, where her client-centered therapeutic work supports healing and growth. Now, she wants to help other parents and caregivers by sharing her knowledge of the transformative power of the arts.

Over the course of one month, participants explored stress-reducing, grounding and reflecting techniques using a variety of artistic media and journaling. Recognizing that fun is an important factor that not everyone makes time for due to their busy schedules, Greta curated each session to be therapeutic, enjoyable and accessible. She created a warm and supportive community where caregivers could gather and enjoy the process of creating art while working through various emotions.

The first class explored different grounding techniques using paper and poetry, while the second focused on movement, music, and paint. In their third class, participants created dynamic works of art using scraps of fabric to bring about meaningful memories. To conclude, caregivers worked with clay and were encouraged to let the medium reveal what it could become in their hands. Both during sessions and at home, participants were encouraged to journal their thoughts, and to reflect on the thoughts that were surfacing for them.

Greta expressed her joy in witnessing the positive transformations that occurred throughout the workshops. When asked about the importance of expressive arts Greta responded, “Using the senses and the imagination allows for the exploration of our responses, reactions, and insight as we experience different art forms. The results are often unexpected, [yet] provide clarity and meaning [that] inform our path forward.”

Monique Nelson, posAbilities’ long-time family resource coordinator and community engagement director was delighted to participate in the sessions – “I am a caregiver too – and really enjoyed putting my heart into Greta’s hands, taking on this high sensitivity, low skill work that is expressive arts therapy. Greta and I met many years ago on the sidelines of a soccer field, and I knew intuitively that she was the right fit for what I had hoped to deliver to our community. Personally, I met some new friends, and learned new grounding techniques that I am sure will be helpful moving forward in my caregiving journey!

The workshops have become more than just a creative outlet – they’ve become a source of support and community for everyone involved. Throughout the classes, participants not only learned more about themselves but also developed meaningful connections along the way. It’s clear that Greta’s passion for helping others shines through in every aspect of her work, making these classes a truly special experience. With each stroke of paint and each beat of music, participants carved out space for their own wellness.

Special thanks to Christ Church Cathedral (a posAbilities community partner) and Aegis Community Inclusion Centre in New Westminster for hosting the classes and helping us make these workshops a reality! If you’re interested in learning more about expressive art therapy make sure to check out the HeART website where Greta, along with Heba Khalid, provides a safe and secure space for healing through the therapeutic use of art.