Featuring Professional Member: Sarah Tong
Come along and get to know the amazing story of our professional member, Sarah Tong, from teaching art to diving deep into the world of art therapy.
- What led you to pursue art therapy as your chosen profession?
My initial role as an art teacher, coupled with experiences as a guidance counselor, often left me intrigued by certain artworks that are educationally unrelated. Additionally, encounters with students exhibiting behavioral challenges prompted me to question why traditional teaching methods had not effectively addressed their deviations. Upon relocating to Canada, I discovered the discipline of art therapy, sparking the beginning of my transformative journey.
- How much does your art therapy training program form your way of being an art therapist?
Throughout my educational journey, I gained a deeper understanding of myself, learned to navigate personal challenges, and adapted to cultural differences in both life and learning. The integration of theoretical knowledge and supervision support during my internship facilitated my growth into a therapist.
- Could you elaborate on the theoretical framework guiding your art therapy practice?
I draw from a synthesis of theories, with a focus on psychodynamic, person-centered, and the Expressive Therapy Continuum.
- What target group(s) do(se) you serve most?
My primary focus lies in addressing domestic violence (children and parents).
- What art materials do you frequently utilize in your practice, or which ones do you find most appealing?
My toolkit encompasses a variety of materials, including two- and three-dimensional elements, both dry and wet mediums. Selection depends on the preferences and needs of each individual client.
- How would you metaphorically describe art therapy, and what symbols resonate with this practice?
Art therapy can be likened to fluid pigments, devoid of a fixed form, adapting to the evolving needs of the individual. Each unique trace left behind in the artistic process reflects the distinctiveness of the therapeutic journey.
- When did you become a member of HKAAT, and what motivated you to join?
Having returned to Hong Kong after a decade of working in Canada, I found myself unfamiliar with the local art therapy landscape. Joining the association allowed me to connect with and understand fellow art therapists in the region.
- What are your thoughts on the current state and future potential of art therapy in Hong Kong?
While art therapy in Hong Kong is still in its developmental phase, awareness has increased over the past decade. However, misconceptions persist, and there remains uncertainty about the nature of art therapy among both the general public and helping professionals. Despite its suitability for non-verbal psychological treatment among Chinese individuals, the fast-paced culture in Hong Kong may contribute to misunderstandings regarding the efficacy of psychological therapy.
- How do you believe HKAAT can contribute to supporting and advancing the field of art therapy in Hong Kong?
The association can play a vital role in promoting art therapy through talks, workshops, exhibitions, conferences, and other initiatives, fostering greater awareness among the general public and healthcare and social work professionals. Exploring socially responsible projects and providing a platform for therapists' professional development, ethical standards, and networking with other expressive arts therapy associations, are all avenues through which HKAAT can make a meaningful impact. Advocacy for professional accreditation with the government and healthcare authorities is also crucial.
- What contributions do you feel you can make to further the growth of art therapy in Hong Kong?
My past and current involvement includes executive committee participation, association events, and offering insight and recommendations.
(Sarah shared two pieces that symbolize the fluidity and process-oriented nature of the relationship between the client and the therapist)