I have over 20 years’ experience working therapeutically with children and young people, their families and carers. I worked in a therapeutic residential community with children who had suffered severe neglect and abuse before training as an Art Psychotherapist at Goldsmiths, University of London. Upon qualifying as an Art Psychotherapist I worked in a specialist school and as part of a therapy team supporting Looked After Children in residential care and their carers.
I have been working as an Art Psychotherapist in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in the Midlands since 2005. My time in CAMHS has involved working with birth families with children of all ages as well as with foster carers and adoptive families. During this time I also trained in Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) which is a time-limited psychotherapy focusing on working collaboratively to develop understanding of relating to self and others.
My Art Psychotherapy and CAT trainings have provided me with creative and structured ways of engaging and working with children, young people, parents and carers. This includes trying to work alongside clients (both children and adults) to a useful and realistic ‘middle ground’ or ‘third option’ when they feel stuck between unhelpful but familiar patterns. Both art therapy and CAT are visual and creative therapies that include a mix of talking together and using images and writing to help out thinking.
I like to find ways that therapy can still be helpful to people who are unsure of or for whom the timing for therapy may not be right. This can involve short pieces of work providing a useful experience of working and thinking therapeutically without the commitment and intensity of longer-term psychotherapy.
In addition to practicing as a therapist I have had experience of management and children’s mental health service development and transformation. This included involving children and young people in feedback and development (‘Participation’) and allowed me to build on my collaborative approach to working with young people and parents/carers. My experience as Manager and Participation Lead has provided me with additional beneficial perspectives and insights into organisations, change and development.
I feel that it is a privilege to work as a therapist with other people’s children and will always try to establish some common understanding with parents and carers before therapy commences. I believe it is important to approach psychotherapy with creativity and a sense of humour and that if things don’t feel like they’re working or helpful that it is important to talk honestly about this. Experience has taught me that there is always a way forward even at the most difficult of times!