About 30 people, including 14 secondary school counselling teachers, attended a half-day workshop on “New Trends in Counselling” at the main campus for a better understanding of teenagers and how best to help them.
The workshop was organised by WOU’s School of Education, Languages and Communications (SELC) with the support of the Penang Regional Centre. Among the schools represented were SMJK Heng Eee, Methodist Boys School, Penang Chinese Girls High School, SMJK Chung Ling, SMK Abdullah Munshi, and St Xavier’s Institution.
WOU Deputy Vice Chancellor of Operations Dr Seah Soo Aun, in his opening remarks, stated, “WOU wants to work in partnership with schools and suggest for students to pursue higher education in WOU or other institutions in the state. With WOU, we can encourage them to stay and study in Penang.”
Meanwhile secretariat chief of National Key Results Area (NKRA) in the Penang Police, Superintendent Suhaimi Rahim, talked about “Problems of Teenagers” from the police perspective. He said among the problems they engage in are murder, rape, drugs, truancy, and illegal street racing or mat rempit. “We don’t want to drag teenagers to jail. The Police do adopt an open approach. We must handle problems of teenagers immediately so that it does not escalate and cause problems to the family and society.”
Remarking that the Police and community must work together to solve teenager-related issues, he stated: “We cannot simply say to them ‘You are useless’. The Police use a soft approach as we believe they can change since they are still young.”
Meanwhile Teoh Bee Tin, the Founder and Principal of Art Therapy Academy, spoke on “Art Therapy as a Counselling Tool”. Her focus is on fine art like drawing, painting, sculpting, construction, colouring, marbling and collage, and using art materials like colour pencil, oil pastel, water colour, marble and clay. “Marble is very good for those with anger management problems as they need to use a lot of energy to carve the marble. Clay allows direct contact and is more for those who don’t know how to express themselves.”
The art therapist clarified, “We get the person to draw and then we access the different dimensions of the person’s problem, whether mental, emotional or behavioural. We can also access their personality. We make them think of how the drawing relates to them, and then get them to talk more, for example why a particular object came to their mind.”
Teoh suggests that art therapy be introduced in counselling sessions to help the person see problems from different perspectives. “Through the art work, they tell us their problems. They feel more comfortable to talk about personal issues and emotions in a third person.” She later conducted a finger-painting activity for the participants, describing what the drawings tell about their character.
In closing the workshop SELC dean Prof Santhiram Raman shared that the School hopes to develop a 10-day course over five weekends with Teoh’s help and open it up to school counsellors.