Art Therapy in Building Resilience

a scrabble type block spelling the word resilince

Su Mei Tan

16 August 2023

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Hello, from The Tearapy Post!

My name is Su Mei, a Malaysian Art Therapist, Family Art Therapist, and Yoga Therapist living and creating on the captivating Kulin Land – Naarm (Melbourne), Australia. I am the Founder of a private group practice called Art Tearapy, where we weave the rich tapestry of tea culture from around the world into our creative and somatic therapeutic healing. My journey has been one of exploration and transformation, marked by transitions and the profound impact of art therapy in nurturing emotional resilience.

Discovering Art as a Lifeline

My journey into the world of art therapy started with a shift in my teenage years. Leaving Malaysia at 15 to pursue education in a foreign land was a daunting transition. Before that, I was an active basketball enthusiast, and the arts had barely crossed my mind. However, moving to England introduced me to a world of cultural adjustments and isolation that led me into a period of depression and self-harm. Amidst this turmoil, I found solace in art as a subject at school—a conscious act of rebellion against my mother’s wishes for me to excel at the piano. Little did I know that choosing art would become a lifeline, helping me process grief and frustration. The hours I spent painting, sculpting, and creating provided me with purpose, joy, and an avenue to release my inner turmoil. I discovered a profound connection between the creative process and my ability to make sense of my struggles.

Architectural Pursuits and a Calling Unveiled

While my journey led me into a Bachelor of Architecture, my connection to architecture felt distant from the art that had provided me solace. Nonetheless, I completed my degree and co-founded OrkidStudio, a charity focused on designing and building orphanages in Uganda and Bolivia. It was in Bolivia, during art workshops with children, that I had an epiphany. I realized my passion lay in understanding and nurturing the internal experiences of individuals rather than the external structures we were building. This revelation set me on a quest to find a creative discipline that could touch the soul.

In the years that followed, I embarked on diverse paths, from becoming a yoga instructor in Goa, India, to participating in Paris Fashion Week behind the scenes, and completing a Master’s degree in World Heritage in Turin, Italy. I wore the hat of a high school teacher in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, engaged in environmental architecture in Borneo, and delved into Malaysian activism and design circles. These ventures were interspersed with periods of mental health challenges that eventually led to a diagnosis of Bipolar I Disorder. Amidst these trials, I discovered my true calling: Art Therapy.

Embarking on the Art Therapy Journey

With newfound clarity, I decided to pursue a Master of Art Therapy in Melbourne—a journey that marked the turning point in my life. Art therapy, for me, is more than creating something beautiful; it’s a journey of emotional release, self-discovery, and healing. My own experiences taught me that true healing arises not from perfection but from embracing imperfections. This realization led me to help others find their strength and resilience through the creative process.

Blossoming into Art Therapy

Fast forward eight years, and I find myself embracing the role of an Art Therapist in Melbourne. Armed with a Master’s in Art Therapy and experience in Disability, Mental Health, Hospitals, and Family Therapy fields, I founded Art Tearapy. This practice has allowed me to collaborate with individuals of varying abilities, creating a space for them to embark on their own healing journeys. The incorporation of tea culture enriches the experience, reminding us that healing is a gradual unfolding, much like tea leaves steeping in hot water.

Guiding Others on the Path of Resilience

Art Therapy has guided me through my own journey of building resilience and healing, I have come to understand that transitions, challenges, and setbacks are all part of our human experience. As a professional Art Therapist, my mission is to walk alongside others on their journeys, guiding them toward building their own resilience. Just as art provided me with a language to express the inexpressible, I am dedicated to providing a safe and nurturing space for individuals to explore their emotions, process their experiences, and uncover their hidden strengths.

As a client at Art Tearapy, you’ll find that I have handpicked TEAM TEARAPY because they preference working as compassionate partners in the Art Therapy space. Drawing from our diverse backgrounds and personal journey, we understand the intricacies of transitions and the emotions they bring. Through art therapy, we’ll embark on a collaborative journey of healing and self-discovery, where your creativity becomes a conduit for resilience. The transformative power of art is within your reach, offering you the tools to navigate life’s challenges and find strength in your unique story.

Your Resilience, Your Masterpiece

As I reflect on my journey, I’m humbled by the path that has led me to Art Therapy. With each client, I’m reminded that our stories are interconnected, and our experiences can be transformed into works of artistry and resilience. Together, let’s celebrate the beauty in imperfection, embrace life’s transitions, and craft a masterpiece of resilience through the healing journey of art therapy. Your canvas is waiting, and your inner strength is ready to shine.

Join Us on the Journey

If you’re inspired by my story and intrigued by the potential of art therapy to shape your own resilience, I invite you to subscribe below to our blog, The Tearapy Post. Stay connected with insights, stories, and resources that celebrate the healing power of creativity. Additionally, if you’re ready to begin your own transformative journey or know someone who could benefit from art therapy, we welcome you to join our waitlist by making a referral. Your path to inner strength and resilience begins with a single step—a step we’re ready to take alongside you.

Without fear or favour,

Su Mei


The Tearapy Post