Free art therapy for newcomers to Mtl

Refugees can avail of individual or group sessions to help them transition to life in their new city

Free art therapy for newcomers to Mtl

Photo credit: The Refugee Centre

An art therapist in training at Concordia University, Jude Ibrahim says she wants to use art to help make the transition for refugees who recently moved to Montreal a little bit easier. Approximately 70 per cent of the 33,000 newcomers who arrived in Quebec between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 live in Montreal.

She said she believes art is a great form of self-exploration and self-expression, and is an important component of resettlement. So, as the Mental Health Coordinator at Montreal’s Refugee Centre, Ibrahim will be facilitating free individual and group art therapy sessions that she says will allow clients to express themselves, regardless of possible language barriers, and to find a sense of connection and community.

The individual program, in partnership with the Montreal Therapy Centre, will provide 10 free, 50-minute sessions to any newcomer or referral through the Refugee Centre.  The sessions can be conducted in person or virtually.

The 12-week group therapy session for mothers, in partnership with Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts, will be conducted online on Fridays between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.  This program began October 29 but mothers can sign up for one of the eight weekly spots at any time. Ibrahim says the sessions will allow mothers to de-stress and indulge in moments of self-care, often not a priority or possibility for those in the process of resettlement. Each session will use art to explore themes such as identity, postpartum experiences, and parenting. Free art kits will be provided.

Ibrahim explains that the first few sessions will be used to establish connection and trust, and to assess specific needs. There will be verbal and artistic expression to address specific areas of concern and a means of stress relief. A variety of materials will be available for art-making and activities can include painting, drawing, and collage making.

Ibrahim says as Montreal’s latest residents navigate their new lives, it is important they not only feel supported but have a space to be with other people and feel safe.

For more information, visit therefugeecentre.org/wellness-support.