Talha Al-Ali – An Art Therapist with a Twist

photoTalha Al-Ali in action as Wise Wolf

Talha reached out to Art Nouveau Therapy after we posted about our cause on the International Art Therapy Group Facebook page. Talha Al-Ali is originally from Tulkarem City, Palestine, but now bases himself in Amman Jordan. He holds a Bacehlor Degree in Psychology and Counseling and a Masters Degree with the Community of Mental Health. He has over 10 years experience in theatre (writing, acting, directing and holding training sessions) as well as seven years experience in composing and producing hip hop music for theatre. This has given Talha the ability to use art and expressive therapies more professionally.

Talha started using expressive therapies with children and adolescents in 2008. He mainly worked with traumatised children, children that had dropped out of school, child labour, children of martyrs, teenagers with social difficulties and juveniles in prison.

He generously shared some insights into his work with Medecins Sans Frontieres in Jordan. In October of 2014, MSF launched a mental health programme for children showing signs of distress from war and displacement and there were 351 consultations by the end of the year.

Talha was kind enough to send us materials produced by Terre des Hommes. This organization works all over the world for children, their rights and equitable development. They are an international children’s rights charitable humanitarian umbrella organization. Other independent organisations are in Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and Syria.

TDH created a manual for practitioners titled ‘Working with children and their environment – Manual of psychosocialskills.’ One of the most interesting components of the manual is the training modules for a ‘psychosocial approach.’ This includes managing oneself, one’s relationships with others and in groups. The Personal Skills section discusses perception and action, resilience and resources of the person, managing emotions and feedback and self-knowledge. The modules include a range of role-playing, group activities such as Lifeline, Protection and Risk Factors and Experience Sharing amongst the group of children. Similar stages are demonstrated in different strands of Art Therapy in Australia. You can enrol your child in similar workshops through this link: artandplaytherapytraining.com.au

Here are some words from Talha himself:

From my experience in psychotherapy, I found that expressive therapies are extremely important with traumatized children and children with emotional problems, because sometimes expressing can be all what they needed, where all PTSD symptoms decreased after using expressive therapies. It could also be because children’s resilience in such situation is higher than adults as I also noticed in practice. Also, expressive therapies give them the tools to express and speak up as they can’t verbalize their thoughts and emotions mostly, which is similar to children dealing with learning or physical disabilities. Plus, some practices give them more awareness toward themselves and others, more self-conceptualization and can give them more insight about what they need, on the same hand they feel more accepted and it increase their sense of belonging especially when using music, dance/movement, and when using drama.

 I also used expressive methods used in expressive therapies for educational reasons where I used and still using drawing and painting as a tool of non-formal education programs. I used drama for modeling and teaching wanted morals and positive values as well along with storytelling.”

Talha recently started to work for “Doctors Without Borders France” as a Responsible of the Education Program and a Pediatric Counselor. He uses informal education programs that involves drama and modeling that teaches morals and positive values through storytelling. These methods are used to treat the child’s symptoms of isolation and frustration, which children with learning disabilities can relate to.

Talha’s work demonstrates that art therapy covers many different avenues and if the more traditional techniques of painting and drawing do not suit your child or their situation, there are other options available for them to express themselves.

If you’re interested in Talha’s Hip Hop music, here is a link to listen to his work!: soundcloud.com/talha-aka-wise-wolf