In conversation with Eunice, ROAR’s Art Therapist: “It’s about making marks not making pictures.”
Eunice started her placement here at ROAR back in 2014, as she studied for her MA in Art Psychotherapy, and continues to come in offering her professional services for individual clients every Monday.
But what is Art Therapy? Through a series of sessions, Art Therapy creatively engages participants through the expressive use of materials and mark making, initiating a dialogue between the client and therapist. As Eunice comments: “This non-verbal communication is explored further through verbal dialogue with a view to understanding and healing emotional issues.”
As part of her Masters degree studied in Sheffield, Eunice, as with all her fellow students, had to actually partake in a series of therapy herself, namely because of two reasons. The act of being a therapist to somebody else can unravel how your own past experiences have affected you in different ways. Also because, as Eunice put it, “unless you have been to therapy, you have no idea of what your client is going through.” This part of the course then encourages a deeper understanding between therapist and client.
Eunice opted to take up Drama Psychotherapy whilst studying, placing herself, intentionally, out of her comfort zone. Conducted as one-on-one sessions, much of this process surrounded how to use your body to better express emotion. These experiences have confirmed a belief in a firm unity and common ground between the different artistic therapies, something she believes should be more strongly encouraged in the profession.
Many of Eunice’s clients best succeed when they have no background in art, in a sense it frees them from any preconceived ideas of what they “need” to achieve and enables them to be much more open to playing with different mediums. This rationale inspires how Eunice works. She explains how she will begin some group sessions with “a lot of rubbish”- and she means actually things that would typically be put in the bin- to really inspire her clients creatively. If you put oil pastels or watercolours in front of someone they automatically try and create a traditional piece of art but as she so eloquently put it: “It’s about making marks, not making pictures.”
In this sense, Eunice delves into the importance of the relationship of the therapist and the client. In her own words: “Unlike other psychological therapies, Art therapy introduces a third ‘person’ into the relationship — the image or artefact. Many clients, particularly those suffering from low self esteem or who find verbal communication difficult, find this triangular relationship is particularly useful, as it creates a space between themselves and the therapist which enables them to feel more secure.”
Eunice is available for individual sessions on Mondays, including on a self-referential basis. If you would like to discuss her services Eunice has to offer, you can contact her via her email on firstname.lastname@example.org