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[Expressive Art Therapy Special Topic]Qiu Chengwu left officialdom to become a therapist and used art to relieve depression and difficulties

[Expressive Art Therapy Special Topic]Qiu Chengwu left officialdom to become a therapist and used art to relieve depression and difficulties

Text: Zhang Shumei Photography: Lai Junjie “Ming Pao”

(Hong Kong News) Twenty years of life is enough to develop a career.

Qiu Chengwu, the former deputy secretary of the Transport and Housing Bureau of Hong Kong, retired from officialdom at the age of 57 and decided to use the next 20 years to start a new career.

In the first half of my life, I worked as a reporter and entered officialdom, and I was used to thinking rationally and logically. In the second half of my life, I chose to break into the underdeveloped right brain perceptual area and became an expressive art therapist, using art to relieve people with emotional distress.

Qiu Chengwu (middle) retired from officialdom at the age of 57 and spent nearly a year looking for a future career. When he thought that he still had more than 20 years in his life, enough to develop a career, he started studying again.

He changed into completely different positions in the first and second halves, but he believed that they were of the same line and looked forward to continuing to relieve our city’s worries.

Qiu Chengwu has a media background and has worked at Radio Television Hong Kong, “The Standard” and “Economic Daily”. His most well-known identity is believed to be the “Deputy Secretary for Transport and Housing”. Six years ago, his term expired and he stepped down as deputy director. During the period of “crossing the cold river” (after a director-level civil servant leaves office, he is not allowed to hold commercial jobs for the first six months to one year), he chatted with different people everywhere and asked where he would go in the second half.

Spend 3 years studying Expressive Arts Therapy

An acquaintance of the priest suggested that he study theology, and some companies approached him, inviting him to join as public relations or consultants. Some friends who had worked together in the media recommended it to him after completing expressive arts therapy courses.

“I used to work in journalism, government, or study for a master’s degree in law. I was used to thinking with my left brain and analyzing issues rationally using evidence and scientific methods. I was wondering if my right brain would be underdeveloped?” he said with a smile. I have never studied music or art in the past, so my right brain is indeed a little “undeveloped”.

He said that after working in the government for many years, he learned that he likes direct and practical communication. “When formulating policies related to housing and transportation, people benefit directly. Building a house and building a road are tangible.”

Expressive arts therapy can not only challenge the untapped right side of the brain, but also provide direct contact with people face to face, which is very real. So he spent three years studying for a master’s degree in expressive arts therapy at the University of Hong Kong and started his third life.

The health condition of modern people sounds the alarm

Journalists, senior officials, therapists, no matter who looks at these three identities, they will feel that they are unrelated. In retrospect, he thinks they are all the same. Journalists change the current social situation through reporting, officials formulate policies that affect people’s livelihood, and art therapists help people relieve mental distress, “all of which directly benefit those in need.”

The mental health situation of Hong Kong people has sounded the alarm in recent years. No matter children, adults or elders, they all have their own problems. “I study this subject first as a magic skill and secondly as a disciple. I can help others. If I have problems in this area in the future, I can also help.” Own.”

What is expressive arts therapy? How can it help the general public who, like Qiu Chengwu, have undeveloped right brains and don’t know much about art?

“We believe that people have two very important basic abilities, one is imagination and the other is creativity; expressive arts therapy is to use these two abilities to help yourself through creative means.”

Qiu Chengwu took painting as an example, emphasizing that it is not necessary to participate in a competition. Even stick figures, simple lines, etc. are enough to cope with it. “The point is not whether the painting is beautiful or not, but whether what you draw comes from your true heart.” He Take line drawing as an example. Some people’s lines are very dense and neat, while others are very free and unrestrained. They may not notice it when they are drawing. But after talking to a therapist after drawing, they discover their disciplined or unrestrained side and deepen their self-understanding. Some emotional problems can also be dealt with in a similar way. “After some psychological training, we can help them find some hidden emotional and psychological problems through the process of artistic creation.”

Young people use painting to open up conversation

Qiu Chengwu explained that expressive art therapy relies more on artistic methods such as music, painting, and dance; children have average language skills, and the elderly may have lost their language skills due to illness and may not know how to express themselves, so this type of therapy is particularly suitable. “Even adults with good language skills , but sometimes when I get emotional and find that I can’t explain my state no matter how hard I talk, I can use this non-verbal way to vent my inner frustrations.”

Returning to school in his 60s, he said that although it was very hard to study, he was glad that this subject did not require examinations. Performance was assessed by papers, projects and internships. He said frankly, “I like this subject very much.”

Now a registered expressive arts therapist, he works on a freelance basis with various organizations. In March last year, when the fifth wave of the epidemic was hitting Hong Kong, he co-organized an online art therapy workshop with the mental health promotion and public education program “Shall We Talk” and the social enterprise “Time” to communicate with participants Express emotions through drawing, body movement, etc., and provide a breath of fresh air in the tense social atmosphere.

This year, we will hold another online workshop with the theme of “Embracing Impermanence” to help everyone face the various impermanences of life. At the same time, he serves as the deputy director of the career reshaping project of “Project Change”, providing support for those who were arrested due to social movements in 2019. He provides emotional counseling and support to arrested young people and their families, so he can often be found in schools, courts, community centers and other places.

How to start a conversation when meeting young people for the first time? Qiu Chengwu will ask everyone to draw an animal that represents themselves to introduce themselves. And he would draw a dolphin jumping out of the water to represent himself. “I think dolphins can represent me.” Like it, it likes to be social, communicative, smart and playful.

“It feels very special to introduce yourself with an animal. You don’t get to know each other through labels, such as journalists and doctors; you get to know each other through personality, preferences and other personal characteristics, which can bring people closer to each other.”

Speaking of these words, Qiu Chengwu lost the seriousness of an official in the past and gained the tenderness of a therapist.

Reflecting on personal value orientation during the epidemic period

When Qiu Chengwu was searching for pictures of dolphins on his mobile phone, Liang Wanfu also took out his mobile phone to search for pictures and sweetly showed his grandson’s self-portrait. It seems that the power of art must not be underestimated. Lu Bingsong also said that he established the “Christ-based Foundation” to help Wanqing people realize their dreams. From time to time, he held workshops for volunteers such as harmonious pastels and small handicrafts. He also attended the class together. Every time he immersed himself in creation, he could temporarily put aside his worries.

“When my father passed away, I didn’t want to talk to anyone. When I was immersed in painting and doing handicrafts, I was fully engaged and felt good.”

The second half changed course. Qiu Chengwu spent a year chatting with different people, reflecting and exploring, and he was very happy to find his new passion. He feels that the epidemic in the past three years has been a good time to reflect on his personal value orientation. “At our age, (it’s time) to think about the next half of our lives. If we do things that are not in line with our own intentions for a long time, we will become more and more frustrated. Hard work is difficult to sustain; when the pressure of life accumulates to a certain level, physical and mental problems will occur.”

Common truisms are more convincing when they come from a therapist who has developed both left and right brains.

Qiu Chengwu shared that sometimes when tutoring young people, he would ask them to draw an animal that represents themselves to introduce themselves, putting aside the labels of occupation and education, hoping to communicate with everyone more sincerely. The picture shows his painting of dolphins.

Develop a new career after retirement

The third age has its own wonderful life

Hong Kong’s life expectancy ranks first in the world. Counting on your fingers, you may have more than 20 years left after retirement at the age of 60. How can you spend it safely?

Qiu Chengwu was afraid when he thought about his retirement days and just wasting away his time doing nothing. So he worked hard to develop his third career and also learned Greek and Hebrew, with the goal of understanding the original texts of the Old and New Testaments.

Dr. Liang Manfu spends his time writing, publishing, and conducting interviews, and develops his expertise in elderly care affairs; Lu Bingsong established the “Christ-based Fund” to help patients realize their dreams, and went to study Chinese medicine to increase his own value. Their third-generation life is each wonderful in its own way!

■Qiu: Qiu Chengwu

■Liang: Liang Wanfu

■Lu: Lu Bingsong

Qiu: I was 57 years old when I left the government. I’m not too young, but I’m far from “old.” (2021) The average life expectancy of men in Hong Kong is 83 years old, while that of women is 88 years old. I (retired) when I was in my 50s…

Liang: There are still about 30 years left.

Qiu: Yes! That is to say, whether I work or do other things, I still have about 20 or 30 years; 20 years is enough to develop a career.

Liang: You should start planning your life for the next 20 years at the age of 50. You should be able to develop further. Don’t waste time.

Do what you like based on your abilities and interests

Qiu: If I invest three years to study a course, equip myself, and then develop a new career, it will be enough time. During this period, you don’t have to fight for your livelihood like in the previous stage. You can choose according to your own abilities and interests, and really do what you like.

Liang: Yes, now you choose the boss, and the boss no longer chooses you.

In fact, life after retirement can be divided into three parts, one-third to have fun, one-third to practice what you want, and one-third to contribute to society. After retirement at the age of 50 or 60, you have more time. You can’t just spend time playing chess in the estate park every day. You should make your life more meaningful.

Qiu: I don’t make the distinction so clearly. I just want to have a job and some income to maintain a basic life; on the other hand, I want to do something interesting to myself and others, and to help others, and I will be happy doing it.

Liang: Writing and doing interviews are what I want to do now.

Qiu: When you are fully committed and enjoy the process, your mental health will be better. Moreover, these things consume a lot of energy. You will naturally feel tired at the end of the day, but you have nothing to worry about. You will sleep peacefully at night and you will be healthy. This is true. Very simple.

Lu: In addition, you can learn some things you like.

Language learning delays dementia

Leung: The government’s Continuing Education Fund (CEF) subsidizes up to NT$25,000 (approximately RM40,000) per person for further study. There is no upper age limit and there are many courses available for enrollment, such as photography, IT, Photoshop, etc.

When your previous workplace no longer hires you, you can go back to school to learn new things, and then work as a freelancer or switch careers in the next 5 to 10 years.

Qiu: It’s not just for income, it can also be for interest.

Lu: I previously applied for CEF and completed a two-year basic course in Chinese medicine, and now I am enrolling in a Chinese medicine and dietary therapy course. I study Chinese medicine not to become a Chinese medicine practitioner, but I can learn about Chinese medicine doctors’ ability to diagnose and prescribe diseases when seeing a doctor. In the past two years, I have learned to take the pulse and prepare medicine, and I have taken a test every three months. During the review, I called the names of the meridians all over my body. Although there was a certain amount of pressure, I enjoyed reading it.

Reporter: I also applied for CEF to learn Korean.

Qiu: Learning languages ​​is also good. Some studies have pointed out that learning musical instruments, languages, etc., will use some parts of the brain that are not usually used, and can delay Alzheimer’s disease. The investment in these aspects is very worthwhile.

For more than 20 years in the second half of his life, former senior official Qiu Chengwu (middle) decided to develop a third career and became a registered expressive arts therapist to relieve people’s emotional problems; Leong Man-fu (right) wrote a book on elderly issues, which he is good at They conducted interviews for the book; Lu Bingsong (left) set up an NGO to help patients realize their dreams. The three of them seized the time to live the second half of their lives to the fullest.

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