My first career was as a publisher, commissioning medical books which I loved. However, a diagnosis of cancer changed the direction of my life. As part of my recovery, I volunteered to work as a Creative Arts Specialist with the Arts Council, which inspired me to retrain as a Play Therapist.
The corporate world, in general, can be described as a very left brained and commercially focussed environment. Having worked in business for many years, I guess I had been unwittingly suppressing my own inner creative without knowing it.
I have always written privately, in journals and notebooks, and found this to be a healing medium. During my cancer recovery I discovered art therapy which enabled me to marry words with images.
Bringing children into the equation
I volunteered to work as a Creative Arts Specialist on two projects funded by the Arts Council, in London. Both projects took place in primary schools:
- “Finding your voice” – a creative writing and painting project for special needs schools, and
- “What Colour is your Rainbow” – a painting project in partnership with the Big Arts Week charity.
This introduced me to how children can express their feelings in safe way through metaphor.
My decision was made
Children were using story telling through their creative play – to make sense of their world. Having seen and witnessed that – I decided then and there that I only wanted to work with children.
As an only child myself, I could relate to children who were feeling more isolated and I could see a way to help them to be less isolated.
Storytelling can unlock emotion
Given the space and environment, children can make stories up that have the ability to unlock their world. Unfortunately the way our education system is ‘built’ children are tested in school – but what’s missing is the “value” piece.
We should be working to help children to find their voice, understand their inner world…and give them the tools to know how to manage growing up.
A lot is changing for children on a daily, monthly and yearly basis and it’s a confusing time. Some children are also struggling with loss or change at an early stage in their development.
What was wonderful to witness in the ‘What Colour is your Rainbow’ project (Big Arts Week) – was that I could clearly see that some children used that time to work with the losses that they were feeling.
Therapy through creative storytelling works
The schools that participated in these projects reported that the children visibly settled down more easily in class after the sessions. That and the other wonderful experiences of these projects gave me the inspiration to change career and re-train.
I was an academic medical publisher – commissioning writers to write books. A world of words you might say! But, now, with my newfound passion – I could work in a world of pictures, colours and images…and I could work with children and make a real difference to them finding their voices.
Being a certified Play Therapist
So, after a lot of training and 400+ hours of Play Therapy hours under my belt – I get to work in a more ‘right brained’ field with creative arts, feelings, emotions, and expression. Today, I can enter a child’s world – to help them and bolster their ability to express themselves and their feelings clearly. (You can find out more about my therapy practice here).