School of Creative

Chan Pui Ying (Charlie)

Chan Pui Ying (Charlie)

MA Art Therapy
Class of 2021

Outside of her career in the corporate world, Charlie Chan has always been passionate about art and community service. Having worked in a fast-paced industry, oil and ink painting offered her a safe space to connect with her inner voice and nurture her soul. As a volunteer for an international student-run organisation, Charlie also organised training programmes for students from underprivileged backgrounds and adults with disabilities. Through her personal art practice and volunteer experiences, she recognised the unique therapeutic value of the arts as a tool to facilitate self-expression without relying on words. During her Masters studies, she had the opportunity to serve individuals from diverse backgrounds, including older adults living with dementia, adolescents with self-harming behaviors and young adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and other mental health disorders.



Ceramic, wood
30.5 x 46 x 5 cm

Charlie’s artworks are much influenced by surrealism and characterised by imaginary spaces and creatures with a sense of detachment from the reality we see. In her artwork, Evolution, she aims to record her inner transformations which are shaped by the encounters throughout the Masters programme. During the process of creating a fossil of an imaginary creature with porcelain, she gained a sense of holding and mastery over her inner fear. The artwork is also inspired by the Tibetan Buddhism’s view on the life cycle, as she was greatly impressed by the childlike hearts in the seniors and wisdom in the youngsters she had served.

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Thesis abstract

Fostering affect regulation in a highly sensitive adolescent through art therapy

Aron & Aron (1997) conceptualised the term Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) as individuals having a common genetically-based temperament trait which is characterised by lower perceptual threshold and higher responsiveness to sensory, emotional and social stimuli. HSP grown up with an adverse childhood were found to be more susceptible to mental health issues than non-HSP. However, the concept of HSP was not widely discussed in the art therapy field. Considering HSP’s feature of being easily-overstimulated, this research aims to explore the role of art therapy in fostering affect regulation for HSP so as to provide insights for art therapists to better cater for the unique needs of this population. In this qualitative single case study, the therapeutic process and outcome of 11 individual art therapy sessions offered to a highly sensitive adolescent who exhibited aggressive and self-harming behaviours will be described. Through a review of the artworks, art-based interventions and therapeutic relationship, the case will demonstrate how a highly sensitive adolescent has gradually developed a self-regulate competency in an attuned and containing relationship.

Clinical internship

Elderly daycare centre
Art therapist trainee 
- Conducted group art therapy sessions for older adults.

Mental health community centre 
Art therapist trainee 
- Conducted individual art therapy sessions for adolescents and young adults addressing mental health.