ill_012Fiety Meijer-Degen, senior trainer

I was trained as an artist and art psychotherapist. I have worked as an art psychotherapist in adult and adolescent psychiatry since 1967. In addition to my activities in the Netherlands, I have also worked in Seattle (USA) and the Netherlands Antilles. My specialties are psychotrauma, stagnated mourning, family and couple therapy, and transcultural treatments.

In 1985 I founded the Instituut voor creatieve therapie en expressie psychotherapie (ICTEP). At ICTEP, I gained experience treating traumatised adults and children from various cultures, including WW II war victims and unaccompanied minor asylum seekers.

Since 1987 I have been sharing my knowledge with aid workers who work with traumatised people in countries that suffer or have suffered from conflict. To prepare myself for teaching courses in such conflict areas, I created a specific train-the-trainer course, taught by Transcultural Psychosocial Organization, Uganda and wrote a training manual (Coping with loss and trauma through art therapy). Meanwhile, I have trained aid workers of more than 35 nationalities.

I discontinue my direct work with patients in 2017 at ICTEP but I am still providing supervision and training. However, I hope that I can continue passing on my knowledge and experience to aid workers in conflict areas, for the ultimate benefit of the afflicted people. Through my work for the Hijman Degen Foundation I am indirectly helping the weakest (often ‘forgotten’) people in society. That’s where my heart is.

Esther van Pijkeren, trainer

I have worked as an art psychotherapist in child and adolescent psychiatry since 2007. My areas of focus are trauma and domestic violence. In that context I developed a treatment model, ‘Geweldige Kinderen’.

I am driven to focus on children, by providing them with a safe context in which to reflect on their experience and express their story through artwork. For me, it’s about making children strong, so that they can speak out. In so doing, I’m trying to make a meaningful contribution to the parent-child relationship. It always touches me when parent and child reconnect by means of artwork and words.

In my own youth and after my art therapy training, I was lucky enough to experience a wealth of cultural diversity. For example, I lived in the United States for four years and worked with street kids and orphans in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela for nine months. More recently, I worked in Bosnia and Romania. In 2011, I paid my first visit to Cameroon as a junior trainer for the Hijman Degen Foundation, training teachers in the use of art therapy methods.

The work for the Hijman Degen Foundation brings together the substance of my work and my passion for different cultures. As trainers, we empower the trainees by means of visual language, drawing on the local possibilities and the qualities of the trainees. In Cameroon I saw how trainees excitedly went to work with their new knowledge and skills, which spread like ripples on water and will ultimately mean they can continue independent of us. We, however, are not left unfulfilled; the trainees and their cultures have enriched and inspired us.

Marlies Mannesse, senior trainer

I have worked as a drama and art psychotherapist since 1978. The first twelve years I worked at RIAGG (now GGZ), and since 1990 I have conducted my own practice. I focus on helping children, adolescents and mentally handicapped persons traumatised by neglect, violence, sexual abuse or war. If art therapy is to be meaningful, the adults that deal with children on a daily basis should be informed and counselled.

Starting in 1999, I provided training courses for the ADMIRA foundation in Serbia and Macedonia for six years. We trained aid workers and NGOs in dealing with the domestic violence that had surged in the wake of the war. It felt good to share our knowledge and experience with the local aid workers. For many of them, it was a novel experience to work with drama/game methods and visual art. They all saw for themselves the many possibilities this gives to help children, adolescents and their families.

My work for the Hijman Degen Foundation allows me to use my knowledge and experience all over the world. Creative psychotherapy offers opportunities to express in another way what cannot, or hardly, be expressed with words. In this manner, stories, memories, emotions and thoughts can be shared. As a result, people feel connected again. And it allows children to grow up in an emotionally, physically, mentally and creatively sound manner.