1. What did you think of the format of the workshop? (length of session, the ‘coffee morning’, zoom, the art materials)
“The format worked really well. There was a really good balance of whole group discussion, working individually, working in breakouts. The discussions and coffee mornings were a really important part for me and I enjoyed connecting and sharing with other mums. The posted art kit was lovely, and made me feel a bit special and looked after at a difficult time for me in pregnancy and life. The 3rd session felt a bit rushed/full-on – maybe as we were packing the course into 4 sessions. I feel like I’d like to have double the number of sessions at least, but I appreciate there are practical and financial limitations!”
“The format was fine – it’s actually very practical online as I have a dog that would otherwise need looking after (and I saw a couple of participants had small children) – I think the online format makes it vastly more accessible. Four sessions might be better – I felt I could have done one more!”
2. What benefits did you take away from the programme?
“The class gave my lockdown self-isolation some much-appreciated structure, something therapeutic to enjoy and focus on, and something I can return to if I feel the need (as I was kindly given ample materials). I’ve also stayed in touch with the other lovely people on the course. “
“It’s completely blown my mind how effective creative and visual techniques are in finding a way out of negative and anxious thinking. I’ve found new ways to process, express and let go of what is going on for me. I really enjoyed the sense of connection with others. I’ve felt tangibly more positive and at ease and happy at the end of sessions.”
“It gave me a chance to reflect on myself and check in on how I was feeling. I think it’s very easy to become just a pregnant woman and forget that you have needs too, so having a bit of me time during the day was so useful. It was sometimes hard to change pace when going from work to the class, but Julia was so calm and we always took time to check-in and breathe. Having said that, if it weren’t for covid I would have been in work and unable to attend, so some classes outside of work hours would be really welcome.”
3. How do you think we could improve the programme?
“I think it came right at the right time for me – I think I started in the latter half of my second trimester. The other mums seemed a little more fixated and anxious about various things, and I think two women ended up missing the final session or two because they had given birth or were being induced! Maybe they would have coped better if the therapeutic art class had come a bit earlier – and it would have been better for those who had to miss classes, of course. Once you have the materials you can always carry on, up until birth!”
“Make it longer! Also who else do you run these courses for – I think everyone I know would benefit from it (my partner, my teenage step-kids, other friends and family).”
4. Do you have any general comments?
“I’ve struggled with anxiety for a long time. I’ve tried plenty of times to address this with CBT and mindfulness – which seem to be the main approaches that are pushed through NHS and through private health care – and ended up feeling a bit of a failure when they haven’t really made a difference. This course is by far the best, most effective therapy I’ve ever experienced and the techniques and activities taught have helped me to instantly let go of negativity and anxious thinking in a way that nothing else does. I’m not really an “arty” person but this course has really connected with me and my feelings. It was interesting because there were so many different things going on for the women who took part, but the course connected and spoke to everyone. The course is well-designed and delivered with compassion and insight. Pregnancy can be such a scary time. In an ideal world, I think every expectant woman should have the chance to undertake this creative well-being course.“
I actually tried to have some counselling to help with a traumatic birth-related event that makes me a bit more anxious around pregnancy and childbirth, and it was truly awful – the treatment was unprofessional, unhelpful, difficult to access and it only made things more challenging for me, leaving me with feelings of helplessness on top of the anxiety. Being offered the art class instead was enormously beneficial – it was much gentler and easier to deal with, and the impact was unconscious as well as consciously soothing and calming. For example, we addressed topics of “anxiety” etc. with art techniques, without having to name the thing we had in mind during the session – but could obviously go back to those techniques as needed. I felt “armed” with something useful by the end, as well as having spent time in a pleasant fashion, in enjoyable company.”
“I want to share with all the stakeholders and future mums that this program is extremely accessible happiness therapy! Happiness and fulfilment are extremely powerful emotions, but too often left behind in modern society. The pathway that this program has created is to trigger the self-reflecting process by materialising the abstract emotional concept via painting. The instruction is very clear to guide the process and no pressure on the painting skills. We have received a lot of encouragement to explore the deep memories and emotions in a positive direction. The benefit of the program is directly observable after the 1st session! My husband found me happier and more relaxed after the 1st session. And the deep self-conscience revelation and the self-motivating process will be impacting my way of thinking beyond the program. A big thank you for the sponsor and the organiser of this great program!”
Many thanks to our funders London Catalyst, The Sir Halley Stewart Trust and The National Lottery’s Community Fund in partnership with the UK Government, Love Kingston and our partners at West Middlesex Hospital.