Last year I completed my Masters in Therapeutic Arts Practice. I undertook a year long placement in community arts and health, gathering experiences in a variety of contexts.
I taught a group of artists how to eco-print and together we created many works and shared them in an exhibition. I co-facilitated a retreat day exploring the Hero's Journey. I provided administrative support in creating a conference. I facilitated an arts inquiry process, leading to a community arts project. I companioned individual clients as they explored their inner life and creative process.
During the placement, I came to clearly see my core values as a practitioner of creative arts therapies:
In the creative process, often we cannot know how something will be born, what shape it will take, or what we will experience in the making. This 'beginning in the unknown' offers such rich possibility. We can set an intention, and move from there, bearing witness to what emerges. We trust and allow the process to unfold in its own way, sometimes surprised by what is revealed.
Throughout the placement, we engaged with the arts to inquire into particular themes. The process and emerging forms offered new knowings. As a researcher, this is deeply nourishing. I now carry this value into sessions with individual clients. Bringing an attitude of openness and curiosity, we can explore our lived experience and find resonant meanings and new perspectives. How we respond to art materials or art works might show us long-held pattern, or a new way of being in our lives.
I have worked with different materials and modalities throughout my life, finding myself drawn to particular tools at different times. Some art therapists have researched the particular qualities of different modalities, describing what each can offer in the therapeutic space. Working multi-modally allows this to occur organically. We are simply drawn to work with string and paint, or clay, or to move spontaneously while sounding. Sometimes it feels challenging to work with a modality and we discover parts of ourselves that have been hidden. Sometimes a modality can be the perfect thing to express a feeling that we've been unable to verbalise.
At the core of therapeutic engagement is relationship. In arts therapies, we are present to the relationship we have with materials, the artworks, the process of creating, and our therapeutic companion. As a therapeutic arts practitioner it is my aim to be present with you, attending to your process and to my own inner responses, offering reflections and asking questions when that is in support to you. It is in therapeutic relationship that we learn to navigate dissonance, to experience rupture and repair, and to develop self-compassion.
The placement helped to clarify these values. They are not all the values that inform my work, but some of the most important. What values do you carry in your life and work?
Chelle is a practicing art therapist, researcher, and multi-modal creative. She regularly dives into the unknown to discover what is ready to be born, deepening her trust in the abundantly creative source. For Chelle, art is a means to inquire, express, and transform. If offers the capacity to soothe, making space for new perspectives and ways of being.