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Asia Focusing International Conference 2017: Presentation on FOAT® for Self-Care

By Grace Chan

Grace graduated from New York University with a master's degree in Art Therapy. She is a Board-certified Registered Art Therapist (ATR-BC) with ATCB in the U.S., and after completed trainings with Dr. Laury Rappaport, she is currently a certified Focusing-Oriented Therapist (specialized in FOAT®). She serves in individual and group settings for a wide scope of population, including people with mental/physical illness, intellectual disability, elderly with dementia, children with special needs (SEN), as well as facilitating art therapy support groups for their caregivers. Grace often integrates FOAT® in in-service trainings and caregivers groups, as a way to promote self-care in health care settings.

Dr. Akira Ikemi (facilitator) and Grace Chan (presenter) leading the FOAT® for Self-Care experiential workshop.

The 1st Asia Focusing International Conference was held in Kobe, Japan during August 25-27th this year. Certified FOAT® practitioner, Grace, who is also a U.S. registered art therapist now practicing in Hong Kong, presented a FOAT® for Self-care experiential workshop at the conference, alongside with Dr. Akira Ikemi as the facilitator. Ever since learning the approach with Dr. Laury Rappaport 6 years ago, Grace realizes that the FOAT® process encourages one to create tangible arts to illustrate the often vague sensations in the body, which helps to deepen awareness of self, and often a great self-care method for promoting healing and transformational change. She has been using this method for in-service training for rehab nursing staff, and would like to further promote its use within the Focusing community as well as among health care professionals.

The FOAT® workshop Grace presented at the Kobe conference gave an overview of some of the

basic concepts of FOAT®, and demonstrated how it can be tailored to meet a variety of self-care needs, through experiential and art examples. About 25 participants from all over Asia participated in the workshop, including seasoned and new focusing practitioners from different regions of Japan, mainland China, as well as Taiwan. Grace started the experiential with a Focusing check-in with a simple art warm-up exercise, and then guided participants with theme directed FOAT®. The selected theme was “source of strength”, which refers to any empowering elements in life such as a figure/spirit/nature that strengthen a person. Furthermore, participants were invited to express the bodily felt sense by creating tangible art work with a variety of art materials. Participants then have a chance to share about the experiential process. Grace also guided them through an internal dialogue with the art pieces, to encourage compassionate listening to inner self.

By incorporating the focusing attitude, theme directed FOAT® aims to guide focuser in the direction, to access one’s “source of strength” or other inner matters. The experiential demonstrated how the FOAT® self-care approach could be applied and structured during in-service training to benefit nursing workers in a rehab facility in Hong Kong. Grace also introduced the work of a group of Hong Kong artists and mental health professionals, who applied FOAT® as a self-care approach and held an exhibition in Hong Kong during spring 2016; their artworks further demonstrated the FOAT® process in depth. The opportunity for Grace to present at this conference enabled fellow Asia Focusers, counselors and educators to have a taste of how the integration of Focusing with the expressive arts, could help to enhance clarity and awareness when accessing bodily felt sense and innate wisdom

About 25 participants from all over Asia participated in the workshop, including focusers from different regions of Japan, mainland China, as well as Taiwan.

Participants were given a chance to share and ask questions regarding FOAT®.

Artworks created through theme directed FOAT® on the topic of “Source of Strength”.
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