Art Therapy with Britta

I met Britta several years ago, and she regaled my daughter with her art and compassion. When my child was having trouble sleeping, she made her a little cloth boat to put all her troubles in. The boat would return in the morning, clear of her worries. It still sits on her bedside table. I have attended several of her art therapy classes, as has my daughter, and she drew out of us hidden emotions and imagery from deep within. I am delighted to introduce you. This is Britta’s world.

When did you realize that you were an artist?

I never saw myself as an artist as such because nothing that I do fits into the official norms of the art culture or the art scene. I was never trained to be an artist. I have had no formal education on art-making, nor was it ever my intention to be an artist; it just sort of happened. ‘Outsider art’ or raw art would be the best way that I can describe my work.

Can you share a little history regarding your art career?

Although I have been lucky enough to work in creative industries throughout my life, my journey of self-expression began when I experienced my own set of challenges and I would find myself painting my thoughts, emotions, beliefs and meaning. These paintings were sometimes angry, uncontained, with an air of insanity about them, and very unconventional. For me, they were everything. It never crossed my mind what people thought of my work, or what they thought of me. It was just crucial that I paint. These days I continue to paint for healing; my paintings are a combination of acrylics, herbs, crystals and essences, and I focus more on energy rather than style.

Can you talk us through what art therapy is?

With professional guidance, art therapy becomes a solid platform for exploration, realization, growth and change. Pencils, pastels, paints, collage and clay are only some of the mediums used. And images, meditations, stories and journaling go hand in hand with art therapy when working through trauma, crisis and challenges throughout life. Some of the benefits are building esteem and awareness, developing skills, managing behaviour, reducing stress and conflict resolution, as well as mindfulness, connecting creatively, personal development and insight.

How did you get into art therapy?

I began my studies in Transpersonal Art Therapy. This course was life-changing. I started to become aware of why I painted what I had, and how art can be an integral part of the healing process. From there I began facilitating art therapy in drug and alcohol recovery and this is amazingly rewarding. I have facilitated holistic response through TAFE. I coordinate workshops throughout my community, staff development and individual art therapy/counselling. I am accredited and insured so continued education in this area is always high on my agenda. I have done many courses in Creative Mindfulness, and have just begun my advanced qualifications in art therapy.

What are the greatest joys that have transpired from being an artist?

The joys in my field are many. I see what it is to be human. I witness the sorrows, the sadness, the madness, but also the happiness, the meaningful, the growth and those incredible ‘aha’ moments, and in this, the strength, courage and bravery of the human spirit.

What are your plans for the future?

A book would definitely be on the cards as well as continued application of art therapy and teaching. Art therapy is not just something I do, but rather, something I am. I eat, breathe and sleep art therapy. Art in itself is not just something I do. My entire life is art; the way I think, speak, feel and behave. Each morning, I am the master of my canvas.

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