Bridging Arts & Medicine through Collaboration & Practice

Increasingly the arts are being enthusiastically utilized within medical settings in Malaysia and in Singapore given the impact of the arts on one’s wellness and wellbeing.  The introduction of the arts into such settings has been well-received by patients, families, and communities overall. This is evidenced by the ongoing development of healing through arts initiatives within these environments; this not only takes into account the physical spaces but also the emotional and psychological aspects of one’s experiences within these spaces, within one’s working experiences, and of course, within one’s healing processes.  This emerging trend is being observed at long established medical facilities as well as at newer purpose-built contemporary spaces catering to a wide range of medical services and client populations. This forum provides a closer look at healing through arts and how this is achieved and bridged through collaboration and practice. Experienced practitioners were carefully selected for this forum given their expertise, their compassion for others and for their dedication to the arts.


Date:  28 September 2019
Time: 10.00am – 4.30pm
Venue: Auditorium Perdana, Level 3
Women’s & Children’s Hospital,
50586 Kuala Lumpur
FEE: FREE (includes lunch and tea break)


10.00am Registration /Breakfast   

10.30am Opening Address

10.45am Keynote Speaker I: Ronald Lay
Bridges, Causeways & Linked Collaboration: Emerging Trends in Arts & Medicine in Southeast Asia

11.15pm Panel discussion “Bridging Arts & Medicine through Collaboration & Practice.” 

On the panel:
Dr Kevin Chin  (MODERATOR) 
Ms Reena Clare (MY) – Art Psychotherapy 
Ms Mahisha Naidu (MY) – Dance Movement Psychotherapist 
Ms Yenn Ang (SG) – Sandplay / Art, Children’s Cancer Foundation
Ms Kayla Wong (SG) – Music Therapist, CHAMPs, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital

12.45pm Lunch   

2.00pm Interactive Music by the GoodKids

2.15pm Keynote Speaker II:  Dr Sujatha Doraimanickam
If Drama Be Food of Love, Play On: Drama Intervention Through Therapeutic Medical Clowning, a Kuala Lumpur Women and Children Hospital Experience

Keynote Speaker III: Prof. DatoDr Mahmud Bin Mohd Nor
Healing Arts: Towards excellent child friendly health facility

2.45pm Break out Session 
i)  Moving Bodies, Moving Minds – conducted by Mahisha Naidu
ii) Engaging Creatively Through Art Making conducted by Reena Clare
iii) Discovering Self in Sandtray conducted by Yenn Ang
iv) Music for Wellness conducted by Kayla Wong

3.45pm    Closing Summary by Dr Kevin Chin  

4.00pm    Tea Break

4.30pm   End

EdD (candidate), MA, AThR, ATR-BC
MA Art Therapy Programme Leader
School of Creative Industries
Faculty of Fine Arts, Media & Creative Industries
LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore

Ronald P.M.H. Lay is the Programme Leader of the first and only postgraduate art therapy programme in Southeast Asia.  He has extensive experience with forensic mental health, older adults, specialized populations, trauma, supervision, and progressive teaching and learning in Higher Education.  He is Board-Certified and Registered with the Art Therapy Credentials Board, he is Registered with the Australian, New Zealand & Asian Creative Arts Therapies Association, and he is a professional member with both the American Art Therapy Association and the Art Therapists’ Association Singapore.  His current research interests are in culture, art therapy training and professional development, community arts projects, and the emerging practices of art therapy in Asia.

Keynote Address Description:

Active engagement in the arts is gaining traction with people of all ages and given its accessibility and inherent therapeutic benefits, the arts are naturally finding their way into medical and healing environments.  Increasingly, research is evidencing that the arts play a vital role in enriching lives, reducing stress and anxiety, and promoting a healthy balance between our various roles, responsibilities and experiences as further linked to our overall wellness and wellbeing.  The arts may be accessed through self-initiation, through environment and setting, through encounters with artists and art specialists, through a range of professionals, and/or through credentialed arts therapists such as art, dance/movement, drama and music therapists. Augmenting this keynote address are examples derived from an extensive career in mental health with children, young adults and the elderly.  This address aims to highlight and champion healing through arts with a focus on bridging arts and medicine through collaboration and practice, and creatively sets the stage for this forum’s presentations and panel.

Public Health Specialist
Specialising in Creative Drama Intervention and Hospital Clowning
Women and Children Hospital, Kuala Lumpur

Dr Sujatha is a Public Health Specialist pursuing her passion specialising in creative drama Intervention. She is attached to Women and Children Hospital Kuala Lumpur and has experienced working in creative workshops for the past 3 years. She has been working with MOH for the past 22 years. Her passion is working with children with special needs such as autism, attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), sensory processing issues, depression and eating disorders.

She has been trained in Theatre work and Hospital Clowning by The Little Theatre, India, Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre(LGBTQ), Hilary Chaplain, USA(improvisation for Hospital Clowning ), Prof Sue Jennings(UK) in the practice of using drama Intervention for Children and Adolescents with Mental Health issues since 2017.

She has been invited to conduct workshops with health care workers by the Ministry of Health, schools, detention homes for adolescents and bedside Hospital Clowning in paediatric, palliative and psychiatry wards. Collaborated with her colleagues Dr Aminah and Dr Anita to conduct workshops after discussing cases at their clinics.

She also has been invited in local television and radio talk shows introducing Hospital Clowning and creative drama Intervention to Malaysia as part of Mental Health awareness. She has presented papers in conferences.

Keynote Address Description:

Modern day Hospital Clowning was started with Patch Adams in 1971. He wanted to integrate a traditional hospital with alternate medicine, which he firmly believed that he could solve most mental health issues with laughter and focussing something that is pure fun. This depends on each patient, family members or caretakers respectively.

Hospital clowns are trained professionals who undergo intensive training to become certified “Hospital Clown”. They are trained in the art of clowning, improvisation techniques, physical comedy, etc. and which medical protocols and safety are adhered and I have been trained by The Little Theatre, Chennai, India which was founded/Managing director by Mrs Aysha Rau.

This is the first of its kind in Malaysia and the hospital clowning project was first started in Pediatric Institute in 2017 under the supervision of Dr Aminah Kassim Consultant Child Psychiatrist. We worked together with Sekolah Dalam Hospital (SDH) on every Tuesdays with special needs children, learning disabilities, Autistic, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)etc. conducting Creative Drama Intervention. It is wrong to think that being in the hospital setting is a normal way of life and this has played a huge role in reducing their stress, anxiety, loss of control etc. and helped them positively.

“It is difficult to explain the concept of Hospital clowning and the benefits although seen but cannot be easily measured.” Dr. Rohini Rau.

Hospital clowning involves the entire family of medical staff into their act so it is a moment shared by all. Even if it lasts awhile, it takes them away from their illness and worries.

“It is interesting to note that children laugh up to 200 times a day and as adults we laugh only 15 times a day and, in a hospital setting, it is as low as ZERO.” Dr Rohini Rau.


Born on 21st September 1945. He graduated from the Faculty of Medicine University of Malaya in 1970. He is currently the Professor of Surgery Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) and Adjunct Professor of Paediatric Surgery Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). He is Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons of Edinburgh and Glasgow and Fellow Academy of Medicine Malaysia. He was the founding head of department of surgery of the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in 1976 and later became the Professor of surgery and Dean of the Medical Faculty from 1984 to 1990. He was responsible for developing the country’s first postgraduate programme in surgery in 1981. He initiated the establishment of the National Conjoined Board for Postgraduate Medical Education and was the first Chairman. He established the department of Paediatric surgery at the Institute of Paediatrics in 1990. In 1992-2000 he was appointed   head of the department of general surgery and paediatric surgery at Hospital Kuala Lumpur and became head of surgical services of the Ministry of Health Malaysia. He was founding President of Association for Medical Education Western Pacific Region 1998-2000 and founding President of ASEAN Society of Paediatric Surgeons in 2005. He is the founding President of the Malaysian Association of Paediatric Surgery. He was the founding President of the Malaysian Child friendly Healthcare Association in 2001 and is currently the President. He has been Chairman of a disciplinary inquiry committee of the Medical Council since 1984. He was also the Chairman of the Specialist Subcommittee for Paediatric surgery of the National Specialist Register. Amongst his many professional achievements are:

  1. Headed the team to successfully separate a pair of conjoined twins in July 1988. He has been involved in the separation of ten pairs with fifteen survivors.
  2. Established and headed the first comprehensive Burn Care Service in the country at Hospital Kuala Lumpur in September 1998.

He was honoured by the College of Surgeons Academy of Medicine Malaysia to deliver the prestigious 39th AM Ismail Oration in May 2012

Keynote Address Description:

In dealing with children undergoing treatment and care in health care facilities it was reported by a WHO Commissioned Study that ‘There was a clear lack of awareness in a large number of hospitals of the special need not only to cater for the children’s technical, medical and nursing need, but also to minimise the adverse effects of being separated from their families and exposed to frightening experience that are all too often magnified by the child’s lack of forewarning’.

Children are different from adults in many ways. They need to be recognized not as small adults but as growing individuals with different levels of maturity physically and emotionally at different age groups. Their responses to trauma and diseases are different from adults and any adverse experience may have lifelong consequences. Thus psychological harm suffered while undergoing treatment is a very important component to justify for steps to be taken for harm reduction and elimination.

The Malaysian Childfriendly Healthcare Association has taken the initiatives to develop standards and criteria to be complied by all healthcare providers in healthcare facilities dealing with children. This will hopefully lead to minimising or completely eliminating the unwanted adverse effects on children admitted to the healthcare facility particularly hospitals. A Childfriendly hospital must be able to cater for the need of all children and adolescents. It must be psychosocially sound and developmentally supportive, physically and emotionally safe, multidisciplinary and family centred. It requires specially trained personnel to deal with every aspect of health care in the facility. This will include therapist trained in the use of other modalities like play, music and art therapy to promote learning and assist in the healing process.


Dr Chin Yin Leong Kevin was born in Saint Mary’s Hospital London in 1980. He completed his Primary and Secondary School education in Petaling Jaya and subsequently obtained his medical degree from Melaka Manipal Medical College in 2006. He completed his housemanship in Kuching Sarawak and since then has been active in the field of psychiatric service for the last 10 years. He has served not only in gazetted forensic psychiatric institutions (Hospital Sentosa 2008 to 2009), district gazetted psychiatric hospitals (Hospital Miri 2009 to 2011) but also in major tertiary referral centres (Hospital Kuala Lumpur (2011-2017). Since 2018 he has had the privilege of being part of the child and adolescent psychiatry team of the Woman and Children Hospital Kuala Lumpur. Dr Chin has had rotations in addiction psychiatry, community psychiatry, old age psychiatry, and forensic psychiatry. He has also been trained in group cognitive behaviour therapy. He maintains a passion in child and adolescent psychiatry and hopes to see more collaboration between medicine and the arts to enhance the practice of medicine as an art and also the promotion of art as a form of healing/medicine. Dr Chin is married with 2 daughters.  In his rare times of leisure, he has developed an interest in myofascial release and the connections between physical illness and mental suffering.



Mahisha Naidu is a UK Registered professional practicing Dance Movement Psychotherapist. She obtained her MA from Goldsmiths College, University of London, where she worked with various populations, including children with learning, social and behavioural difficulties, as well as adults struggling with mental health illnesses. Currently, she is a practicing psychotherapist at The Wave Clinic, a facility that offers addiction, behavioural and mental health treatment programs for young adults. Her experience includes working with clients with Eating Disorders, Substance Abuse and Borderline Personality Disorder. Additionally, she also sees clients as the consultant Dance Movement Psychotherapist at Valley Psychological Services and Inpsych Psychological and Counseling Services, both, mental health centres located in KL, Malaysia.  As a dancer, fitness instructor and Dance Movement Psychotherapist, she vouches greatly for the power of movement in enhancing one’s self expression through creative exploration and the development of the mind-body connection. She wishes for all to be given the opportunity to continue making discoveries and better their self-understanding, when words may simply not be enough.


Reena Clare is a qualified Art Psychotherapist (MA) based at The Mind Faculty, Mont Kiara. She has conducted individual , couple, family and group session,  as well as run corporate workshops. Using an eclectic approach, a wide range of theory and working in culturally aware dimensions, her sessions are personalised to meet the client’s needs. Art Psychotherapy is a psychological therapy that she uses to help clients address complex and confusing emotions, foster self-awareness, work through trauma, challenging behaviours and mental health conditions through art. She is a certified Practitioner in Children’s Accelerated Trauma Treatment (CATT), Mentalization based Art Therapy, Mindfulness and Art Therapy, and Schema Therapy. 


Yenn Ang is a Registered Art and Sandplay Therapist with Children’s Cancer Foundation, a non-profit organisation in Singapore with a mission to improve the quality of life of children and families affected by cancer. Trained in therapeutic photography, clay therapy, grief and loss, Yenn uses creative modalities in therapeutic groupwork for caregivers in bereavement and youth survivors. She also conducts weekly open studios at the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital and National University Hospital in Singapore.
The role of creation empowers a child in a medical setting and allows the child to regain strength and will to cope with pain. As an artist and therapist, Yenn believes art attends to our being and offers new knowledge about ourselves. The art making process provides a way to dialogue with self and to integrate an array of feelings, thoughts and beliefs.


Kayla Wong, MMusThrpy, is a Registered Music Therapist (RMT) who works with children, young people and their families to address areas such as neuro-rehabilitation, developmental support, and cancer treatment. She believes that musical processes can help individuals improve their functional and mental wellness. Having lived in Singapore, the United States and Australia, Kayla has developed a special interest and respect for diversity, enabling her to connect with people from various backgrounds across different ages and abilities. Kayla received her Masters in Music Therapy from the University of Melbourne and obtained advanced training in Neurologic Music Therapy. Kayla is currently perusing her Ph.D. in Music Therapy at Temple University. 

Moving Bodies, Moving Minds by Mahisha Naidu

This one hour session will allow participants to have a glimpse into Dance Movement Therapy as a therapeutic intervention; providing attendees with a better understanding of the power of the mind-body connection. It will offer participants a space to express, explore, discover and connect through dance and movement, in a safe and boundaried space, in the presence of a licensed Dance Movement Psychotherapist.

Engaging Creatively Through Art Making by Reena Clare

Engaging creatively through art making encourages positive psychological functioning. Art therapy uses artistic expression and psychotherapeutic techniques to explore emotions, examine and address emotional conflict in a safe manner. Art therapy can be used as an intervention to improve cognition and sensory-motor function, self-esteem and self-awareness, emotional resilience, insight, social skills, conflicts and distress. This session will give participants an introduction into what art therapy is through a brief presentation and an experiential session. No art experience or affinity needed, participants just need to be ready to engage.

Discovering Self in Sandtray by Yenn Ang
Drawing theoretical foundations and applications of Jungian Sandplay Therapy, participants will be introduced to the use of sandplay, or the World Technique as a means for children and adolescents to communicate their inner world and to enable them to build their own resources through symbols. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in their personal process work through the experiential sandtray.

Music for Wellness by Kayla Wong

This session will explore the different ways in which music can play a part in making a difference in our lives. Different strategies and processes will be experienced and discussed during the hour, which will bring insight to the role music plays as a resource for supporting overall wellness. Highlights of this session will include discussions on how music facilitates: 

  • Connectedness with others
  • Introspection
  • Self-expression
  • Relaxation
  • Motivation

GoodKids is a social enterprise that helps at-risk youth to build self-confidence using performing arts. GoodKids Enterprise was set up in 2015 and in March 2016 the GoodKids Sdn Bhd was set up to further scale up the impact. To date, GoodKids has impacted over 350 at-risk youth. 

All three co-founders bring their own expertise into the organization allowing the organization to provide a holistic impact to the beneficiaries. The team also has 7 part-time trainers and volunteers who assist in training the youth in the 20-weeks program.


“We believe that every child has the ability to learn given the right opportunity to them. Thus we focus on building self-confidence and resolving underlying psychological issues for the urban poor, at-risk youth using performing arts and counselling instead of imposing academic excellence.”