Integrative Arts Psychotherapist
“To use the arts expressively means going into our inner realms to discover feelings and to express them through visual art, movement, sound, writing or drama. This process fosters release, self-understanding, insight and awakens creativity” – Natalie Rogers
As an Integrative Arts Psychotherapist, I use a combination of art forms including: movement, drama, music, creative writing, collage, clay, painting and sandplay to facilitate self-expression. Furthermore, I am an Environmental Arts Therapist. I have completed additional training enabling me to work outdoors, using nature to support self-expression and wellbeing.
My practice is trauma informed, meaning that I have attended trainings related specifically to working with adults and children with PTSD or who have experienced trauma.
The arts can give voice to pre-verbal experience or things that are difficult to put into words. Art is used therapeutically but clients are never required to do anything that feels uncomfortable, just talking is fine too.
I work with both adults and children and have several special areas of interest including: autism / ASD, pre and post-natal depression, emotional abuse, identity issues, low self-esteem, relational issues, self-development, spiritual growth and exploration. I do not promote any form of spirituality, I respect and work with the cultural and religious beliefs of my clients, acknowledging the importance of spirituality within the therapy where it is of personal significance to the client.
I also enjoy working existentially with big transitions. Transitions occur throughout life and, though often painful and challenging, can provide an opportunity for growth and development. Examples of transitions include: a change in school, a separation, a diagnosis, an impasse with work, retirement, children leaving home, menopause, pregnancy, birth, death et cetera.
With regards to my work with autism, everyone on the spectrum is different and I enjoy getting to know the strengths and difficulties of the individual and using the arts to support sensory integration, self-expression and flexibility. I follow recommendations made by Van Lith and Jessica Stallings in their recent research project, establishing professional guidelines for art therapy with children with autism. This includes working with the child at their pace and structuring sessions so as to reduce anxiety and support growth and wellbeing. Often sessions with people on the spectrum involve a combination of structured activity and free art making, play and role play. The use of structured activities allows me to work through specific areas of difficulty. For example, if a child is struggling to make friends, I would design a number of activities involving emotion recognition and social communication. These activities are then employed in a multimodal way throughout the course of therapy. There are a number of studies supporting the strengths of a multimodal approach for ASD. An integrative arts form of multimodal learning might incorporate exploring the same topic or issue variously through sandplay, clay, puppets, painting, storytelling, role play et cetera.
In all my work, my approach is informed by my clients, what works for them individually and what they seek help with. The arts provide a fantastic toolkit for exploring inner and outer experiences of self and the world. I provide a non-judgmental, safe space, in which clients can express themselves, work through past pains and difficulties and move toward greater wellbeing, choice and flexibility.
While my approach is founded on offering clients safety and support to express and discover themselves, I also believe that an appropriate level of challenge is integral to growth. I offer challenge and bring my humanity into the space. I seek not to be a spectator but to be a companion in life’s journey, a companion who shares an important journey and, at its end, is no longer needed.