In my individual counselling work I use an integrated combination of theories and modalities including: arts-based inquiry, mindfulness, narrative therapy, trauma-informed practice and grief and loss processing.
The arts therapies are a form of psychotherapy utilising creative modalities, to improve and inform physical, mental and emotional well-being. They differ from traditional art-making or performance in that the emphasis is on the process of creating and meaning-making, rather than on the end product. The arts therapies can help people to resolve conflicts, develop interpersonal skills, manage behaviour, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and achieve insight. Art and arts therapy can encourage clients to:
- express feelings that may be difficult to verbalise
- explore their imagination and creativity
- develop healthy coping skills and focus
- improve self-esteem and confidence
- identify and clarify issues and concerns
- increase communication skills
- share in a safe nurturing environment
- improve motor skills and physical co-ordination
- identify blocks to emotional expression and personal growth.
Art therapies work by accessing imagination and creativity qualities, which all human beings possess in order to generate new models of living, and contribute to the development of a more integrated sense of self.
Asking people to reflect on their own creative work is an important part of an art or arts therapy process because it is understood that each individual brings his/her own cultural influences and personal experiences to their creative process. Client and therapist work in a collaborative manner aimed at empowering the person to discover their own meaning-making and to reach his/her fullest potential.
Narrative therapy understands that people are the experts in their own lives and that people hold within them the answers and guidance they need, even when it feels that they do not. Narrative therapists inquire with people into their lived experiences with respectful curiosity, aiming to walk alongside, helping them to find their own answers.
The person is never the problem the problem is the problem. Narrative therapy views people as separate from the problems they experience. Combining arts based practices we can also use representations to visually separate the problem from the person, noticing and naming the values and attributes the problem holds and do we or don’t we still want them around.
Narrative therapy understands that people have many stories about their lived experiences, some of which are about problems and some of which are about skills, qualities, resources and the things, which give their lives alternative meaning.
Trauma informed practice
Trauma informed practice engages some key principals in its framework. Establishing a safe physical and emotional environment. It also aims to understand how cultural context influences perception of and response to traumatic events and the recovery process. Supporting those living with the impacts of trauma to regain a sense of control over their daily lives and develop strategies that will strengthen their sense of autonomy. It engages a collaborative, relational approach. It is based in an understanding that the impacts of trauma can include loss of relationship, a fractured or depleted sense of self and an at times complex bag of physical, emotional and cognitive consequences.
Trauma informed practise also uses psycho-education, reflecting on how trauma affects the neurobiology and explores why people develop their own, at times unique, coping strategies.
Mindfulness techniques can be useful to begin to recognize thoughts are just that, thoughts. There are times when they can be more harassing or intrusive than others but it is possible to begin to tolerate what can often be experienced as intolerable.
Noticing breath and how it enters and moves through our body, as well as simply feeling our feet as they push into the floor can bring us back to the here and now. To come back to the present engaging our senses we can more easily notice thoughts without the usual judgments. Finding ways to be in the moment neither trying to push away the unpleasant nor to grasp at the pleasant.
As we become more able to experience thoughts without judgment about their why or wherefore, we become freer to observe our internal processes more objectively. It is as if we are watching the stream of consciousness rather than swimming in it.
Grief and loss processing
Themes and issues that might be explored in individual counselling include:
Life transitions, trauma and related impacts, grief and loss, depression and anxiety, and personal relationship difficulties.
I offer individual and small group supervision and debriefing sessions, in which I utilise both language and arts-based opportunities for reflection and expression.