Below is an excerpt from an interview I did with alternative health podcaster Sarah Kottman a few months back, addressing the question of how I became an art therapist.
Here is my answer to that question:
I became an Art Therapist because I felt really drawn to use my passion for creativity and my unflagging personal practice of art making to somehow help people.
This came to me after many, many year, almost 15 years actually, in government and sustainability policy world, so a very different type of work. Over time what I had noticed was that I felt very drawn to supporting other staff members and I really enjoyed facilitating groups and workshops and helping people come up with their own insights and find their own wisdom. I found that really, really satisfying.
I suppose over time I realized that the work I was doing though it was very stimulating on an intellectual level and kept my head very busy, there were other aspects of myself as a human being that felt quit under-stimulated through that work and I suppose, for want of a better description, heart side, the empathetic side.
I started to realize that perhaps my creativity and my sense of empathy and my ability to connect with people in an authentic way, was actually something I would like to see if I could use more often. I began to wonder if I could really use those as the foundations of new career going forward. That’s what drew me to art therapy.
In my own life, I have found therapy to be extremely helpful to me in processing past grief and wounds and family patterns. I have found it very hard work but effective in creating big shifts.
My own personal art making practice similarly got me through some difficult life situations and experiences. I had felt and seen first hand how powerful creative expression could be and I knew how deep the work of making artwork could be for healing, for coming with symbols, for accessing wisdom and insight at a different level to the day-to-day kind of thinking. It really just one thing led to another, I suppose, and drew me to study art therapy.
In addition, I’ve also gone on to study coaching with a mentor and teacher and now friend, Barbara Sher, who’s an amazing woman, very accomplished best-selling author, and some say the god-mother of life coach who first developed success teams back in the late 1960s. I was drawn to that as well.
I think those two aspects work very well together for me because on the one hand the art therapy sits much more in the symbolic and the sub-conscious and healing of emotions and past wounding and the coaching sits far more on the kind of constructive and productive, helping people work towards tangible dreams, helping people plan and prioritize and get started in the action steps that are going to take them one step after the other closer to the things that they love. They’re the two aspects that I’m holding at the moment and then I’m balancing that I offer my clients. For now it feels like a really good mix.