Uncategorized

New developments in 2017

Working with Dr Pooky Knightsmith from the Charlie Waller Memorial Fund (CWMT)

I had an exciting opportunity recently to collaborate with my fabulous colleague Clare Arnold (Art Therapist from Brighton and Hove) to deliver a workshop to Learning Mentors from Brighton and Hove Primary Schools. We explored the benefits of using creativity in their work with children to explore and express feelings. This event was part of the CWMT’s commitment to support staff working with young people to develop their ability to recognise and manage mental health issues (www.inourhands.com/cwmt/).

Pooky directs the children, young people and schools programme at the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, which is a charity providing fully-funded mental health training to schools. She is a passionate ambassador for mental health who loves to research, write, speak, teach and share all manner of ideas about mental health, wellbeing and PSHE. Her enthusiasm is backed up both by a PhD in child and adolescent mental health and her own lived experience of anorexia, self-harm, anxiety and depression.

teenyoga-logoYoga for Teenagers

After Easter I will be offering Yoga sessions in Brighton for teenagers; either one to one or in small groups. If you are interested in finding out more please contact me (saskianeary@yahoo.com). You can also have a look on my new web page for more info about Yoga for Teenagers.

I trained with Charlotta Martinus from Teen Yoga  which is fully accredited by Yoga Alliance UK and Independent Yoga Network (www.teenyoga.co.uk). Teen Yoga supports the charity TeenYoga Foundation, whose aim is to support optimal mental and physical well-being in young people.

Yoga is a fantastic tool for young people to deal with stress, anxiety and to cope better with emotions and the everyday pressures that so many face. Yoga can help to bring emotional balance. I am also really looking forward to developing innovative work with young people that includes both Yoga and Art Therapy.

Yoga can give young people (and indeed the rest of us!) new tools to support their own emotional wellbeing and good mental health by listening inwards to their bodies, thoughts and ideas (see Ingunn Hargen & Usha S. Nayar, Yoga for children and young people’s mental health and well-being: research review and reflections on the mental health potentials of yoga, Frontiers in Psychiatry, 02, April,2014).

Dragonfly Wellbeing Collective

I have recently joined ranks with the Dragonfly Wellbeing Collective which was set up last year by two very dynamic, skilled and committed individuals; Paula Goldsmith and Margot Uden.

We are planning to work collaboratively on various exciting projects over the coming year which I will tell you more about in my next post. In the meantime have a look at their website to find out more.

logoweb-1

Yoga and teenagers

Over the last couple of years I have become more and more interested in how I can bring yoga together with my art therapy practice. I have started to do some yoga training and to explore how yoga and art therapy can complement each other.

Next week I am going to do a Complete Yoga Alliance accredited 5 day course with Charlotta Martinus from Teen Yoga. Empowering teens through yoga and mindfulness including the latest neuroscience, mindfulness research and disciplinary techniques. I wonder if this will be the beginning of something new for me!? It will build on my previous training in 2015; Yoga for neurodevelopmental differences with Dr Lucy Clarke introducing yoga and mindfulness for people with Autism and ADHD and the Special Yoga Foundation training, Getting Started Teaching yoga and mindfulness to teens.

Perhaps someday I’ll be running one to one and group yoga sessions which includes art therapy to help young people relax, focus and concentrate. Supporting them to develop self awareness and a positive relationship with themselves starting with compassion and acceptance. I really believe art therapy and yoga together can offer something innovative and positive to young people as they navigate their way through times of anxiety, stress and confusion and start to build a stronger sense of self and find ways to express themselves creatively without judgement and fear.

Bring it on!

Art Therapy at Brighton Health and Wellbeing Centre

Art Therapy at Brighton Health and Wellbeing Centre

Art therapy gives children, young people and adults an opportunity to use art materials to explore the world around them and start expressing and making sense of thoughts and feelings which may be difficult to talk about. You don’t need any previous experience of making art and you don’t need to be good at art to benefit from art therapy!

Children and Young People

Children and young people can sometimes feel under a lot of pressure. They might be dealing with changes or concerns (in relation to home, school, family, friends, developing identity, growing up and so on) which leave them feeling confused, stressed, sad, anxious and sometimes depressed. Early intervention to support and improve a child’s mental health and wellbeing is essential. Art therapy offers a safe space to start exploring and understanding what’s going on – how a young person is feeling and where aspects of their day to day life might be causing them difficulties.

“Using materials like clay, ink, paint, charcoal and recycled objects to create something or just to doodle and play can help a child or young person get in touch with how they are feeling. Sometimes it’s easier to make something that connects with what you’re feeling inside rather than find the words to talk about it. The image or object can open up a space to start to understand”. Saskia (Art Therapist at BHWC).

Art therapy is particularly helpful when children and young people may struggle to find the words to express how they feel. Being part of an art therapy group can help develop confidence and the ability to trust others as children and young people begin to notice and value their own feelings and experiences alongside their peers.

Adults

Adults can access one to one art therapy sessions with a referral from their GP. If you have concerns about your mental health and experience anxiety, distress, depression – art therapy can help.

Art Therapy Benefits

Creative absorption in art making – the process of becoming even for a moment lost in or preoccupied with the creative process of making and using materials can help develop a stronger sense of self.

Sense of agency and choice – individuals make artistic choices about materials, where to place a mark on a page, the subject matter of their work and so on. This can help develop a sense of control and agency, and a sense of self from which these choices emerge. Putting a young person in touch with their inner world supports them to think and feel for themselves in their own individual way.

Art therapy and art activities – both are valid processes in their own right with different emphases. Art therapy is the exploration of a personal issue or situation using art materials, along the way artworks of great merit may be produced (but this is not the main focus).

Telling a story through art – change can occur when a young person is able to direct their feelings into making art which can be shared with the therapist and others in a group. They can tell their story through the art.

Self discovery – the act of creating art triggers a sense of relief and well-being through the recognition and acknowledgement of subconscious feelings. It may also help us discover abilities we did not known we had.

Personal fulfilment – the creation itself is a tangible reward that can build confidence and nurture feelings of self worth and personal fulfilment.

Empowerment – individuals express emotions and fears that they were unable able to convey through conventional means giving them a sense of control over these feelings.

Physical rehabilitation and symptom relief – the act of creating art helps individuals cope with pain. It helps promote physiological healing by helping to identify and work through anger and resentment issues as well as other emotional stresses. It can also help ease fears caused from disease and chronic illness.

Overall, art therapy helps progress us from unconscious distress to a conscious level where we can begin to heal and move in the direction of a more fulfilled and improved quality of life.

Feedback from participants and parents about how art therapy has helped:

“I do feel the group has had a great impact. His anger is so much more controlled now and he has enjoyed the group”

“He was very anxious before he joined. Since he has been attending he seems happier and more content”

“Safety, belonging, interaction. Trying art and exploring art”

“It offers a safe, happy, fun space for children to express their feelings that are out of control and without the pressure to keep up their roles within the family”

“I have been able to keep calm and not snap and burst as I know I will have time to talk about it in the group”

“Made me feel not alone and there are people who are feeling the same as me”

“I was able to keep my anxiety under control”

“I get angry a lot less often”

“I feel a lot more relaxed/ calm, not feeling as confused”

Art therapists are bound by law to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) http://www.hpc-uk.org. To find out more about art therapy have a look at the British Association of Art Therapy (BAAT) http://www.baat.org

Further reading:

Art therapy for Children: How it Leads to Change, Professor Diane Waller, Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2006 SAGE Publications (London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi) Vol 11(2): 271–282. Handbook of Art Therapy, Cathy A. Malchiodi PhD ATR-BC LPCC (Editor), 2011, Guildford Press.

Why should I care about medical humanities?

Wellcome Trust Blog

L0027293 The gyri of the thinker's brain as a maze of choices in biomWhat happens if you put a medical historian and a literary scholar on a train together? In this case, you get a book about the way medicine, health and the arts can work together. Victoria Bates is a lecturer in modern history at the University of Bristol and has spent years organising events and promoting collaboration in the field of medical humanities. Here she explains the journey from train to book, and gives us five reasons why medical humanities is more important than you may have first thought.

Medical humanities touches a wide range of different disciplines and it can be hard for those unfamiliar with the field to really grasp what it’s all about. The key elements of medical humanities include inclusivity, interaction, insight, and innovation. But why should you care about medical humanities? Here are five ways in which the medical humanities touch us all, in sickness and…

View original post 729 more words

What am I up to…

Currently I am working with the NHS at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton where I run an art therapy group for teenagers with chronic medical conditions. I am also about to join a research project with the International Centre for Art Psychotherapy Training (ICAPT) and in September 2014 I’ll be setting up 2 new art therapy groups for children and young people at the Brighton Health and Wellbeing Centre.

My background and interests

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREMy clinical training builds on considerable experience of working with children, young people and adults in the context of rights, participation, policy and evaluation. My main focus and expertise as an art psychotherapist is with young people and adults around mental health and emotional well-being. I have worked with men in a psychiatric care setting offering one to one and group art therapy where I contributed to multi disciplinary meetings and developing care plans for patients. Currently I’m working in a Children’s Hospital where I run an art therapy group for young people with chronic medical conditions. This builds on previous work running one to one and group art therapy with children, young people and their families in a hospital setting.

It is interesting that there is little UK art therapy literature relating directly to working with ‘sick children’. My interests are also around researching the effectiveness of art therapy and generating an evidence base which connects with my previous work where establishing and evaluating outcomes for organisations and young people’s participation was a focus.

It’s clear to me as a clinical practitioner that art therapy can play a role in developing a sense of self, control, giving a voice and reclaiming a narrative. For example, via art making and the relationship with the therapist a child’s fears and vulnerability can be held and anxieties expressed; thereby reducing the isolation and loneliness that can accompany living with a physical illness or a ‘body that doesn’t work properly’. However, in the absence of an evidence base or evaluation to capture the impact and outcomes this work can neither inform the discipline of art therapy nor demonstrate change or benefits to clients. In the current political and economic climate I believe art therapists need to think, act and write with a political purpose in mind and this includes researching the effectiveness of art therapy and generating an evidence base.

I am interested in exploring and understanding the role art therapy practice plays in bringing about change for clients and how we measure and assess that. I am also interested in exploring further how to work with a client as an ‘expert’ (on their own experiences; their bodies, illness, diagnosis) and the potential for engaging them in decision-making about their treatment and practical involvement in their own care as well as educating medical professionals and policy makers. I am aware of tensions around establishing and monitoring outcomes in art therapy. For example, around holding onto the psychodynamic frame when working with a young person with diabetes whose presenting problems might be ‘blood sugar chaos’ or needle phobia; and parents/ doctors are looking for practical help from the art therapist in managing specific problems and/or alleviating distress. There is a need for this to be thought about more in terms of how presenting problems directly and clearly link to kinds of art therapy interventions and short and long term outcomes. If my client’s control of his diabetes does not improve for example, how would I evaluate the impact and outcomes of art therapy?

My background involves working with projects to evaluate outcomes for children, young people and organisations of involving young people in governance/decision making and measuring impact on policy and service changes as well as on development of individual young people’s skills and competencies. You will see from my CV I have done this within various organisational contexts. I have an MA in Applied Anthropology which included a research element and an MA in Art Psychotherapy which included development of case studies.

My combination of skills and experience covers key areas of training, evaluation methodology and implementation, organisational audits in relation to youth work, participation strategies and direct work with children, young people and adults within the wider context of youth involvement in voluntary sector organisations, local and national government.

evaluating the impact…?

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

My clinical training builds on considerable experience of working with children, young people and adults in the context of rights, participation, policy and evaluation. My main focus and expertise as an art psychotherapist is with young people and adults around mental health and emotional well-being. I have worked with men in a psychiatric care setting offering one to one and group art therapy where I contributed to multi disciplinary meetings and developing care plans for patients. Currently I’m working in a Children’s Hospital where I run an art therapy group for young people with chronic medical conditions. This builds on previous work running one to one and group art therapy with children, young people and their families in a hospital setting.

It is interesting that there is little UK art therapy literature relating directly to working with ‘sick children’. My interests are also around researching the effectiveness of art therapy and generating an evidence base which connects with my previous work where establishing and evaluating outcomes for organisations and young people’s participation was a focus.

It’s clear to me as a clinical practitioner that art therapy can play a role in developing a sense of self, control, giving a voice and reclaiming a narrative. For example, via art making and the relationship with the therapist a child’s fears and vulnerability can be held and anxieties expressed; thereby reducing the isolation and loneliness that can accompany living with a physical illness or a ‘body that doesn’t work properly’. However, in the absence of an evidence base or evaluation to capture the impact and outcomes this work can neither inform the discipline of art therapy nor demonstrate change or benefits to clients. In the current political and economic climate I believe art therapists need to think, act and write with a political purpose in mind and this includes researching the effectiveness of art therapy and generating an evidence base.

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREI am interested in exploring and understanding the role art therapy practice plays in bringing about change for clients and how we measure and assess that. I am also interested in exploring further how to work with a client as an ‘expert’ (on their own experiences; their bodies, illness, diagnosis) and the potential for engaging them in decision-making about their treatment and practical involvement in their own care as well as educating medical professionals and policy makers. I am aware of tensions around establishing and monitoring outcomes in art therapy. For example, around holding onto the psychodynamic frame when working with a young person with diabetes whose presenting problems might be ‘blood sugar chaos’ or needle phobia; and parents/ doctors are looking for practical help from the art therapist in managing specific problems and/or alleviating distress. There is a need for this to be thought about more in terms of how presenting problems directly and clearly link to kinds of art therapy interventions and short and long term outcomes. If my client’s control of his diabetes does not improve for example, how would I evaluate the impact and outcomes of art therapy?