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  • Writer's pictureAlana Stewart

What to expect in your first Art Therapy session

Hi! My name is Alana and I'm an Art Therapist & Counsellor who works with my therapy dog Evie. With this blog I hope to guide you through what to expect in a typical first Art Therapy session with me at Yellow Gum Art Therapy Studio. I aim to tailor all sessions to each individual's needs so these details may not be exact for you.

Getting to know our Studio:

As you step into Yellow Gum Art Therapy Studio, you're welcomed into a single room that's not too big and not too small. The first thing most notice is our large windows with treetops right outside where we are regularly visited by lorikeets, crows, cockatoos and other birds who love to play outside our window. Around our space we have many creative treasures and artworks on display, some that clients are welcome to handle and inspect closer.

The heart of our studio is our diverse range of art and sensory materials available for exploration. If clients want to I can show them around the space to see where we keep things. Our space offers vibrant paints, to tactile clay, soft textures of fabrics, many kinds of unique drawing materials, an abundance of collage, stencils and craft bits and pieces, and much more. We even have a collection of LEGO, fidgets, kinetic sand, slime, toys and puppets. Our range of materials cater to a variety of preferences and therapeutic needs.

Getting to Know Eachother:

Our first session together is a gentle introduction, a time for us to connect and lay the foundation for working together. It may begins with some conversation – a chance for you to express your reasons for seeking therapy, and what you hope to achieve. I also offer to tell clients to ask about myself and my practice as well as welcoming any questions.

During this time, we usually also discuss your previous experiences and preferences with art materials. Some people may have certain materials they don't like to use due to sensory sensitivities and this is okay. Also, some people may have limited experience with art materials and creating art and if this is you, be assured that art therapy does not require you to have any previous knowledge or experience with art.

Getting to know how your Art Therapy process will feel:

Every art therapy session here is different, just like every person who walks into our studio. I tailor each session to what you need and how you feel most comfortable expressing yourself.

Some people like to talk about their feelings and then use art to dig deeper into those emotions. Others prefer to let the art do the talking, expressing themselves through their creations without many words. There’s no right or wrong way; it’s all about what works best for you.

I have a range of art therapy processes we could explore together to help you express something or you can come with your own ideas about what is important to create instead!

If you’re new to art, don’t worry – I’m here to help you get familiar with some different materials and how you could use them. It’s not about being good at art; it’s about finding a way to express what you’re feeling, whether it’s through painting, drawing, sculpting or even expressing through writing, sound or movement.

Getting to know our studio companion, Evie the therapy dog:

Lastly an important member of our studio – Evie, the therapy dog. She plays a special role in our art therapy sessions.

*For those who don't wish to interact, Evie can stay on her bed to herself with some direction from Alana.

When you first walk in, you’ll likely be greeted by Evie with her friendly waggy tail and gentle eyes staring up at you asking for attention. She loves meeting new people and is great at making everyone feel welcome. If you like, you can start your session with a little time petting or playing with Evie. It’s a great way to relax and feel more at home in the studio.

During our art making, Evie enjoys lounging on her chair or bed, quietly observing or having a nap. If you call her name she will likely come to you for a pat or a hug. Evie can also show off some of her tricks or lie accross your lap whilst you sit on our couch if you choose.

Evie is still learning and training, so sometimes I might need to help her stay calm or keep her on her leash. Whether Evie is spending some time alone on her bed or chair, sitting on your lap or getting pats, she is always happy to be around and be part of the therapy process in her own way.

In general, my Art Therapy approach is person-centered and client-led, meaning I tailor each session to each individual needs and I am guided by your goals and preferences in each session. I hope this blog has offered a sense of what a first session may feel like with Evie and I at our Yellow Gum Art Therapy Studio. If you have any more questions please feel free to reach out.

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