MAGIS Creative Spaces began in 2013, catering to individual psychosocial needs of children. Housed in the Learning Child School, Alabang, MAGIS’ primary thrust was to impact the life of a child through his learning environment. This was done and is maintained today with creative extra-curricular activities for children, and a neurodevelopmental therapy department, focused on Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy.
Over the years, these clinical services expanded to accommodate more services under psychotherapy, such as Art Therapy, Dance/Movement Therapy, Music as Therapy, and Counseling for all ages. This supports not only children with complementary/alternative therapies; but also their families and the wider local community. The clientele has also grown to cover neighboring cities.
Today, MAGIS’ vision has evolved to focus on bringing the value of the arts to various contexts: schools, workplaces, and underserved communities all over Metro Manila and select areas around the Philippines. The program design process at MAGIS cultivates the integration of the arts into creative psychosocial wellness interventions, supported by psychological and scientific background. Neurodevelopmental health is also integrated through progressive, inclusive design that considers the whole person. The MAGIS approach is applied to everyday contexts and for all ages through intentional activities for mindfulness, playful and experiential learning, and expression and reflection for self-awareness, self-compassion, and empathy.
In 2006, a survey was conducted by Gina A. Alfonso, Studio Director of MAGIS, as part of her thesis on art therapy in Asia. This was a survey conducted specifically in South East Asia including the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, on the availability of local information on the field of EXA (programs, practitioners, literature). While it yielded information on a number of existing programs using the arts as a medium for self-expression both in therapy and education in some countries, there was a clamor in the Philippines for more information on the science behind the practice, which goes beyond self-expression, or externalizing the inner psyche. To quote a practitioner from one organization,
We do ‘art therapy’ ouido, from the gut. And while we notice the positive results, it would be good to get validation about the effectiveness of our practice, but we have limited resources/sources about the principles behind the expressive arts as a medium for healing.
More than a decade later, there seems to be an even greater interest in the field of the expressive arts in therapy, education and even business management as a science. The expressive arts is emerging as a vehicle that engages people in a holistic way, thereby creating an impact in a person’s well-being, learning and creative processes.
In her thesis, Alfonso takes pride in the creative soul of the Filipino and notes that the Philippines is the breeding ground for the most talented of artists. 2013 presented the opportunity to host the pioneers in the field of EXA, and was recognized a time of an intense clamor for nation-building and shaping a country that reflects the truth about the Filipino soul.
Alfonso’s chapter on Art Therapy and Disaster Relief in the Philippines, in Art Therapy in Asia (a Jessica Kingsley Publication) illustrates the Filipino’s resilience and ability to rise above the most challenging of disasters. Coincidentally, a few days before MAGIS was launched through its maiden event, POEISIS, Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines. While a majority of individuals were deeply concerned about the devastation,the expressive arts approach presented through the workshop had offered new pathways towards recovery, rebuilding, and became a catalyst for individuals in re-imaging a future beyond the recent calamity.
POEISIS was facilitated by the pioneers of the Expressive Arts and the European Graduate School in Switzerland, Paolo Knill and Margo Fuchs.
Simultaneously, MAGIS launched the Expressive Arts Network, an online community of art enthusiasts who believe in the expressive arts for healing, education, peace-building and social transformation, who share events and ideas about the arts for wellness and healing and learning.