Makers & Doers Podcast

Katie O'Donoghue 'Artful Minds: Nurturing Children's Emotional Growth Through Art Therapy'

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June 1, 2023
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Makers & Doers Podcast
June 1, 2023

Katie O'Donoghue 'Artful Minds: Nurturing Children's Emotional Growth Through Art Therapy'

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In this episode of the Makers & Doers Podcast, I speak with Katie O'Donoghue, an artist and author of several beautiful children’s books. Katie is an art psychotherapist and is in the process of completing her PhD in Health Psychology in UCL. Katie speaks to me today about the power of introducing art and design to children, and how it can help them process emotions.

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Episode Transcript

This transcript was created using the awesome, Descript. It may contain minor errors.
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[00:00:00] Welcome to the Makers and Tours podcast. A podcast aimed at parents and guardians looking to learn more about giving children opportunities to explore design through making and doing. Now, I am your host, Jerry Scalian, a designer and educator based in Ireland, who's been training organizations at user experience design and service design and human-centered design to practitioners all over the world.

[00:00:24] Now, the Makers and Tour School is up and running and we're so excited about running our. First public event in July in Dublin. That's called the Makers and Doers summer camp. Now we still have some places available, so if you have children between the ages of six and 12, and send them along to Makers and to learn more.

[00:00:40] Now by way of introducing myself, I'm also the founder of the Human Center Design Network and the number one podcast, this is Hate cd. Taaz of today, has been downloaded over 900,000 times. And we talk with design leaders globally about how they use design and design methods to create better outcomes for people.

[00:00:58] So if you are working in the [00:01:00] spaces of business and innovation and customer experience, that is a podcast that you might be interested in checking out. Now in this episode of the Makers and Doers podcast, though, I speak with Katie Odue, an artist, an author of several beautiful children's books. I saw that Katie was running an event for my daughter's school.

[00:01:19] About design and art and resilience, and I was like, perfect. I want to connect with Katie, but connect. Katie, let me tell you a bit more about Katie. Katie is an art psychotherapist and is in the process of completing her PhD in health psychology in University College London, and Katie speaks to me today about the power of introducing art and design to children and how it can help them process emotions and much, much more.

[00:01:42] It's a fantastic conversation. Katie is awesome. So do go along, check out our website. It's in the show notes as well. And also check out those two books Katie has recently published. Okay, thanks so much and I hope you enjoyed the episode. Katie, I'm delighted to have you on the podcast, a very warm welcome [00:02:00] to this eight cd.

[00:02:01] Now, we connected a number of weeks ago on Instagram, but for our listeners, maybe start off, tell us a little bit about yourself, where you're from and what you do. Sure. Okay, so I'm from county Carey and that's in the south of Ireland. Um, for those who are outside of our lovely country here, I'm an art psychotherapist by background and I'm currently finishing a PhD in health psychology in University College London.

[00:02:28] I've, uh, special interest in working with children and I am an author of two wellbeing books that are part of a series. With Gil's Books, which is an Irish publisher and they are the little squirrel who worried a tale that focuses on supporting children with anxiety. And the little otter who tried, who was recently published just uh, in March, gone there.

[00:02:51] And that's to support children with resilience. So I think our listeners, well, a lot of the listeners will be really intrigued about the art psychology side of [00:03:00] things. So I'm aware of the discipline, but maybe I'd love to hear a little bit more about it in your own words and how you see art and psychotherapy.

[00:03:07] Well, I suppose history wise, it was, um, sort of, uh, Recognized in, began in the forties, both in the UK and in America, and in the uk It was the term art therapy was coined by an artist called Adrian Hill, and he's, he was one of the first to maybe publicly discover the therapeutic benefits of painting and drawing while recovering from tb.

[00:03:33] And then in the sixties it was formally recognized. It's a mental health profession that, um, Utilizes sort of different psychological theories and it involves, uh, supporting a client to express themselves creatively. So creatively can be many different forms as we know, painting, drawing, mixed media, clay work, and to, uh, explore.

[00:03:59] [00:04:00] And, uh, kind of gain awareness about certain thoughts, experiences, and emotions, and hopefully bring them to a place of some reconciliation and awareness so that they can build on their self-esteem, um, and possibly integrate or move past some aspects of their life that they have been difficult or challenging.

[00:04:20] It, it also is very helpful for say, um, Children, uh, particularly maybe those who suffered trauma or children who are non-verbal. Um, because it can be a way of communicating and expressing without necessarily verbalizing. Mm-hmm. But it can also, you can also use the verbalization as well, but it, it's, um, and I've witnessed it, that it can really be supportive for children particularly.

[00:04:48] Okay, so how did you get into this? How did you find out about the world of art psychotherapy? Um, were you naturally gifted at art and that led you [00:05:00] into this, or what was your journey? Well, I loved art as a child, I suppose it's. One of those things was quite imaginative, bit away with the fairies as they put it.

[00:05:11] Um, but that I would, you know, I'd always be doodling. Um, yeah. Even in class when I'm meant to be concentrating, I would be doodling. And, um, it was something that I felt strongly about that I had a wonderful art teacher in secondary school who. Then one of my books is impartially de partially dedicated to, and she was one of the first adults that I can remember being outside of, uh, you know, it's a family unit or that aspect of community that took an interest in my artwork and encouraged me.

[00:05:42] And I think those. People who are teachers or who have um, can have an impact on children's lives are incredibly important cuz they do and they can shape sort of the direction of that a child will. Take in life. So I ended up, [00:06:00] um, I was determined to go to art college. I did an art portfolio course first, and then I went to Crawford College of College of Art and Design, which is institute technology, or m t u now.

[00:06:14] And after doing my degree, um, I really enjoyed art and I tried different, um, practices, glass play work, and. Printing, painting. Um, and for me there was, I suppose there was still something missing. I guess the, I felt that I was lacking connection, that kind of social interaction in a way, and I was. I had been working during my experience through college for an out of hours GP service.

[00:06:44] Mm-hmm. You know, meeting thousands of different people coming with difficulties, mental health, physical health, and I suppose it made me kind of question what I wanted to do with myself. Hmm. So there was, the only course at the time was either in [00:07:00] Queens, Or in, uh, Crawford. So naturally having already been the Crawford I enrolled and, um, I just, for me, you know, Sometimes, I suppose in fine art anyway, this is not necessarily old art forms, but it's very much about the end product, the aesthetics, and there's a lot of, um, can be a lot of judgment.

[00:07:23] And for art therapy, art psychotherapy for me was very much, uh, a space of literally just the process. Yeah, the expression and being in that sort of non-judgmental, but more of a reflective space. And that's what really sort of. Engaged me and real made me realize this is what I want to do. So, very good.

[00:07:44] Yeah. So the first book, um, was The Little Squirrel Who Worried Okay. Maybe mm-hmm. Give us an overview of what's covered in, in that book for anyone who's listening or any parents that are listening. Um, okay. What, what are [00:08:00] the, the kind of tools, it's probably in a story form, is it? It is. So it's, um, I was inspired to create the book.

[00:08:09] It was the height of the pandemic. Yeah. At the time we were in Lockdowns, I was working for Cams in the nhs. I was in the UK at the time. Mm-hmm. Supporting children, uh, doing a parent group to support parents whose children, um, were referred for anxiety and I. I was missing home. Uh, I was missing, so I live in Clar, which has a, you know, a national park, which is one of UNESCO's site.

[00:08:34] That's stunning. Yeah, it's a very, it's a very special place. So I was missing all that green, that sense of belonging. And I started painting these little animal kind of caricatures. The red squirrel, native Irish animal. Yeah, the red stack. The Ren and I decided then I would try and create a story that would utilize the skills that I, and the education that I was [00:09:00] sharing with parents to support the children at home.

[00:09:03] And I was sending it to a family member one evening and realized I had sent it to the wrong email address. And I thought, okay, well look, I, you know, I'm not gonna publish it or anything. It was more for my own enjoyment and trying to just mind my own mental wellbeing during the pandemic. But anyway, the next morning I woke up and there was an email in my inbox and it was from a man who said, couldn't help but be curious and open it up.

[00:09:30] Turns out he has a little boy who is six, suffers quite. Heavily with, uh, anxiety and had been to many therapists and he ended up reading the story to his little boy. No worries. And at the end, yeah, at the end he said, um, you know, it was great. It really helped him refresh on his coping skills. But I. He turned to me at the end of the night and he said, dad, that was a really good bedtime story.

[00:09:54] And he said, he's never ever said that. Please do publish it and let me know when it is published. Wow. [00:10:00] That's what gave me the push to send it into publishers. Yeah. And, uh, God, that's, that's the crazy kind of amount of synchronicities that happen there to, isn't it? I know it doesn't sound. It's like, it's like something, if you saw it in a movie, you just gotta go.

[00:10:17] Yeah. Okay. And he, and they were actually like, they had my, if it was an email address of a family member with the same surname and, uh, Turns out they have, they're in Chicago and they have relatives in Ireland, but they're not related to me. There you go. Yeah. Yeah. So the little squirrel are worried. Um, and I was, my next question was like, are you doing the illustrations as well?

[00:10:39] Cuz they're beautiful. They're very like almost Enid blight. Um, I dunno if you're, yeah, you're familiar with en advisor. Yeah. People have said that to me and yeah, the really beautiful, such a kinda articulated and um, very personalized as well. Like, so, um, kudo to you, you're skilled in many areas. You're making me feel a little bit dizzy here.

[00:10:59] The [00:11:00] amount of talent, so you, you, you built on that first book, the Little Squirrel are worded and you, you released the second one there a couple of weeks ago. The little otter who tried. Now, do you wanna tell us a little bit story about this one? What, what's covered in this book? And then we're gonna start talking a bit more around resilience.

[00:11:18] Okay. So yeah, this story, uh, was inspired by my current work. So I currently work in cancer care and Okay. Support, particularly focused on developing the children and family services. So when we were returning, uh, you know, Kind of back to normality, I suppose schools were opening up. It was that transition.

[00:11:40] I was getting a lot of calls from parents who, yes, there was, you know, difficulties with the diagnosis being in the family, but more than that, parents in a way were more concerned about how overwhelmed their children were going back after two years of broken study and just, [00:12:00] yes, there was levels of anxiety and.

[00:12:03] I just started thinking, you know, I was giving all this support to parents and things to try, and I realized I'm actually doing something similar Again, I'm creating this sort of a support, but if I could put it out to a, reach a wider net of people, no, this is just a small population of people I'm hearing from and we know from research that, you know, um, it's like 50% of children now are.

[00:12:32] Struggling with some sort of mental health difficulty. Yeah, so, I just thought, well, I'll give it a go again, see if it's, you know, more than a once off that. I have a second. Look, look at me. And, and I did and so I was looking at, I guess this is kind of leaning into the resilience, but this tale is about the youngest daughter in the family.

[00:12:53] She wants to be like her siblings. She, you know, wants to learn how to swim cuz they're going to the [00:13:00] big river and she tries. And jumps right in the first time and realizes things aren't always as easy as they seem. Sometimes it takes time and I suppose I have the different characters she meets, have specific messages to help children with resilience.

[00:13:18] Yeah, so resilience in itself, I feel could, has three pillars. So it has a child's own inner kind of coping skills, ways to, um, you know, help them emotionally regulate, uh, problem solve like we were talking about earlier. Uh, then it's, uh, one of the core things is their parent or carer relationship. That attachment is really important.

[00:13:41] And then there's the community. It's being connected, being feeling that they're belong to something. So it's the school games, it's their clubs, it's their, you know, being with friends. And for two years they didn't really have that. They didn't have, not to mind school, but they're maybe [00:14:00] their grandparents there, seeing the person down the road and having a chat.

[00:14:03] It was, you know, that would've had a massive impact. And I think we are, Still kind of seeing the, the after absolutely. Shocks, I guess. Mm-hmm. It'll go on for decades, I think before it really starts to fully manifest, man, manifest itself into reality on the extent of the, the harm that the pandemic caused, um, the next couple of generations.

[00:14:29] So in your. Studies and also in your practice as an art psychotherapist, psycho psychotherapist, isn't it? Um, mm-hmm. You, you talk a little bit more around the, the skills to build resilience. What does it look like for a child who maybe does not have the skills of resilience or might be lacking in certain areas?

[00:14:52] What are the kind of behavioral aspects that you can expect to see? Um, I think sometimes maybe being overwhelmed, [00:15:00] having difficulty regulating emotions can be an aspect of it. Mm-hmm. Um, heightened anxiety. Um, Because for example, we can, and this works with anxiety and both resilience, but we need to be able to empower as the adult in their lives to empower a child to problem solve so that they feel when they meet some, a challenge or difficulty that yes, there's the adults or the other people they can rely on and go to support for.

[00:15:31] There's always help, but actually. I can think about ways of what might I try, what might I do differently and if I want support knowing that I can ask for it. Mm-hmm. Um, I think there's, particularly with technology, I guess there's a very much an ime, an immediacy for young people nowadays. I mean, it was what, just going into my twenties when, you know, things like Facebook and everything really took off [00:16:00] and, you know, we still had like dial up.

[00:16:02] So. So it's a different type of childhood to the childhood people are having nowadays. Yeah. Um, where everything is that, you know, if you want to, there's social media influencers or the perception of life is perfect or, you know, I have all this. And, uh, I think it's important for children to learn and it to be communicated that.

[00:16:27] Just because something is perceived a certain way does not make it a reality. Mm-hmm. Um, that there's a lot of comparison. So for children, they form their sense of identity by actually co contrasting themselves with their peers. But the problem is then, You know, that these other levels of, I guess, false realities that come through social media, tv, um, which again, aren't necessarily true, uh, that can be quite damaging because they feel help.

[00:16:56] Well, I can't live up to that. Um, yeah, I think helping [00:17:00] children and encouraging them to focus on what their strengths are. And to recognize that we all have different strengths. Yeah. And that, you know, we might never be the best at something, but we can get better at something. And that's okay. Yeah. Um, like trying to move away from this sort of perfection.

[00:17:17] Yeah. Yeah. And first all first adults too. We're, you know, we're hardest. We're our own worst critics, I think most of the time. Absolutely. With the art skills. Um, I like, I've, I've got two kids. One is four, one is six and a half, and I've noticed. That the tendency to try and make it look as real and as lifelike as possible is one of the goals.

[00:17:43] And I'm slowly educating them about, like, that's not always the goal. Like it's just trying to communicate through your drawing and getting something across is more valuable. Um, what are the kind of things that you teach in your. In your classes. [00:18:00] Um, I know you've got one coming up for Irish people who are in Dublin.

[00:18:03] Uh, may the, I'm gonna look at my notes here, is it May the 24th. 24th. Um, yeah. Which I'll, I'll throw a link to that on the show notes. Um, but maybe walk them through what are the kind of things that you do to really help build on the resilience that's required that we spoke about? Yeah, so I try to, from my workshops, I suppose it depends if it.

[00:18:24] A workshop for children or a workshop for say the parents or the professionals in their lives. But for children, what I try to do, particularly using the books, so for example with the little author, is that we might, um, together through the storytelling, we'll take breaks and have interactive conversations about what they're learning so far.

[00:18:44] And then we'll do sort of creative therapeutic activities together. Mm-hmm. So I might, for example, ask them to, I'll draw. Draw a river maybe, and I'll ask everyone to draw a river and ask them on their river to write things that [00:19:00] maybe can be difficult, and maybe they can put a rock in the way of the river, or there's a tree branch that's fallen over, or there's rapids.

[00:19:08] And I kind of want them to be able to express the things that they find challenging. So that would be one example. Okay. And then when we move on a bit further, I might, for example, there is a character called the Narok Toad, which is a native Irish species as well, and it's endangered in Ireland, um, and in, uh, in the world.

[00:19:28] But, um, he talks about the fact that, you know, when he was a tadpole, he thought he'd never be able to jump or run. Um, but he was really good at swimming, so he concentrated on what he. And kind of had that positive thought framing for himself. And now that he's a toad, he can't really jump the best, but he can run really fast.

[00:19:48] So that makes him unique and special. So what I'd like to do then with the children, and I've done that with another group recently, is I get them to draw and write down all the ways they're fantastic, [00:20:00] they're wonderful, that they're proud things that make them feel good about themselves and they.

[00:20:06] Answers were so diverse. Like some were very specific to I'm good at football and others were like, I'm kind, I have, I make friends with people. Um, but it was more about each one, no matter what they were talking about, just their faces lit up and yeah, it's about empowering them to feel. And what I think I say to parents as if they've done that, and you can do that exercise at home, is keep that list of all the things they're proud of.

[00:20:32] By their bed or on the fridge. So when they come home from school and they've had a bad day or someone wasn't nice to them, or they feel that they didn't do well in the test, you can, you can say, well, look at all those things that you were good at. Can you tell me instead of, cuz kids sometimes think, oh, mom and dad, you know?

[00:20:48] Yeah, they're, of course they're gonna tell me I'm great, but actually they've written that list themselves. So it's very, you know, it's a, it's perfect. It's a reality. Yeah, absolutely. So those are, those are the. [00:21:00] Um, activities I do. So it's, it's the creative expression. Um, and I suppose that that helps in a way of not just the writing, but actually the drawing because they are expressing themselves emotionally, uh, in a, on an unconscious, unconscious level.

[00:21:19] So rather than holding all that inside. Yeah. I, I love, I love the, um, the sort of the, the connection back to your stories as well, and, and how you can weave both of those through in your, in your lesson plans. O one of the things that. I try to achieve whenever I'm training adults or soon to be children as well, is the breaking apart of, of problems to help, um, make the problems feel a little bit easier to tackle.

[00:21:49] Um, yeah, and one of the creative problems solving skills of a designer is doing just that. So we look at the problems at different levels, so what's connected and what's [00:22:00] interconnected and what's dependent and so forth. How do you feel? Problem solving and resilience are connected. Um, and what can parents learn about those two things?

[00:22:12] Yeah. Well, problem solving is part of resilience, and I was smiling as you're saying about how design looks at, you know, at challenge and we break it down because actually I think it's, um, Can't reference it properly now, but I know a professor who says that resilience is a process and it's also incredibly creative.

[00:22:32] And it is because, you know, life is complex. So to be resilient, we have to be creative to navigate. But the rivers of life, for example, you know, there's gonna be things that, um, crop up as. Sorry, some things that, that's alright. The clock decided to go flying. Yeah, everything's fine. But, um, there's some things that, you know, maybe we can't fix.[00:23:00]

[00:23:00] In a way, but that we can learn to adapt to, like, for example, maybe a designer who they're, you know, they're, they're working on a piece of land and maybe there's water running through it. Maybe there's a way of incorporating aspects of our challenges so that we can adapt until maybe we can move past them or not.

[00:23:21] But I think it's a, one of the things I like to do, uh, for example, with the child who has a worry, Hmm. Um, I, and the, actually tonight in tonight's webinar with the is pcc. I'll talk about one of the things parents can do. It's creating a worry jar with a child. So what that jar is, is parent and child can design a jar or a box together.

[00:23:44] Hmm. But it's very important that the child has a lot of, um, you know, say about how they do it. So it's very much theirs. And what they can do is anytime they have a worry, pop it in the jar. And maybe twice a week, 10 minutes before dinner. So it's not too [00:24:00] late. There's an agreed time where mom or dad might sit down and they'll look at the worries that are in the jar.

[00:24:06] What can often happen is a worry that they might have had a few days ago, they take it out and go, actually, I'm not worried about this anymore. What? That, that gives a message to the child of that, you know, worries come and go. Difficult times do pass. Yeah. Um, but then the worry that. Needs work and people can Google it.

[00:24:27] There's templates all over the internet of a thing called a worry tree, which sort of gives like a breakdown of yes or no and questions to, to follow through, to come up with solutions and to give sort of a springboard space for parent and child to have these conversations about, well what can we do about this?

[00:24:45] Let's kind of problem solve together. And I think, um, Yeah, teachers, parents. I think it's the child being in a space where they're being heard and maybe sometimes we can give suggestions, but really trying to empower [00:25:00] the child to think. Oh, actually, maybe I can do this. So that's really, really nice. I, I remember when I was in Australia, I did some work with, um, an NGO called Carra Care, which for the Eagle Ear Irish people will know.

[00:25:18] Carra means friend. Um, and. It was owned by a person from Belfast called Mary Jo McVey, who, um, had a fairy door, which once I went in, um, into the place, I didn't real realize initially that Mary Jo's from, from Belfast, I was like, oh, fairy door. Bing, bing, bing, bing, bing. Someone's from Ireland, someone's from Ireland.

[00:25:40] Fairies must be from Ireland. Um, and one of the things that I. Think they were doing was putting the worries in the fairy door. And with the, I, I really liked it. But as a parent now, when I look back in it now, the bits that I don't like about it is where the fairies will come and solve the problems, or the [00:26:00] fairies will look at the, it externalizes them.

[00:26:03] And for anyone listening, um, and who is a believer of the faires, maybe Covey rears because. I believe the fairies don't exist and um, just want people to know that and fairies aren't gonna be reading those worries and articulating them. So I love the worry jar and having, having a set time to explore that really shows that time can heal some things.

[00:26:29] So yeah, that's a really nice approach. Um, there's probably a load of other stuff I, I could talk to you a little bit more about. Do you have, um, any more books planned in the future? And if so, how, how are you going about doing that? Are you using the, the workshops as opportunities to test new ideas out?

[00:26:50] Um, in a, in a way, I suppose. I find that I, my work or what I'm doing at the time clinically with working with [00:27:00] people informs my creative process. Process. Yeah. So, um, with a separate publisher, I actually have another book coming out, um, in the end of May. Wow, you are really prolific. That's three books in under three years.

[00:27:18] Um, but it, it's with, um, a UK publisher which is more focused specifically on wellbeing books that are for like, um, the other counselors, social workers, teachers. Um, but I was inspired to write it cause of, um, I suppose in my line of work that I'm currently doing, there was a, there can be a lot of bereavement and Okay.

[00:27:40] Um, So this book is to support children with grief and lots. Okay. And, um, it's called A Hound in the Sea and I use sort of Irish mythical characters and it kind of has a bit of a mythology sort of feel to it, like an an Irish Wolf hound, coron the sea, [00:28:00] um, different aspects like that, but using metaphors as well.

[00:28:05] Um, like storms that we. Pass through or, you know, the, the waves, um, of, of time and how the feelings and emotions can wash over us and different aspects of that, but using a bit of psychoeducation quite gently through the story. So, so b before I go, for anyone who's listening and is interested to learn more about.

[00:28:29] How to get involved in Katie's work. You can have a I'll put a link to that in the show notes. But also for anyone who's interested in exploring a career as an art therapist, is it a, a requisite that you are, or prerequisite that you're awesome at art? Is that one of the things that you have to be, I know I'm just a leading question, but, um, what I would say an interest.

[00:28:55] So interest, for example. Yeah. To get into, um, like for in [00:29:00] my year, there were some people who had, um, a fine art background. There were people who were teachers, nurses, social workers. But what happened with this, an interview process where you also have to have a portfolio and that in a way your portfolio communicates different aspects of your life and you're able to kind of, uh, Able to reflect on why you are introducing these artworks and you think they're relevant maybe to your experience moving forward as an art therapist.

[00:29:31] Okay. But, but I think if you have an interest in art and have basic understanding about the different materials, color mixing application, um, then there's, there's no reason why. Somebody couldn't apply that therapist. Yeah. Do they do the courses online? Do you know? Is uh, Crawford or Queens? Um, um, I think it's mostly because of experiential.

[00:29:59] [00:30:00] Definitely now it's in person. I'm not sure if during the pandemic that it was online, I presume the master might have had to move online, but Okay. I know, uh, they might do tasters and I think some different places might do like an online taster. Because it's a really, it sounds like it's a really rewarding profession to be in because you're helping children solve some really important questions that they have.

[00:30:28] Mm. And not even always solving, but actually just giving them that space, the tools where it's not, yeah. A space to just be that it's not necessarily in the, it's funny because sometimes for the first few sessions, especially the younger kids, even though you'll introduce yourself and you might say, I'm Katie, I'm an art therapist.

[00:30:50] Every now and again you'll get, especially if you are working in a school setting, you'll get teacher, teacher, you know, it's how you kind of, uh, Viewed, but it's about creating that [00:31:00] space that's a safe, sort of non-judgmental space where they can just be and express themselves. How, how do you go about making those spaces?

[00:31:09] Because, um, my daughter sees an occupational therapist and I'm always asking for little, not tips, but just approaches and how they actually manage to make the place feel so welcoming. Um mm-hmm. What are the things that you do in your, because it is sort of like a craft in that sense, making it feel warm, so, so, Yeah, so it can depend on what setting, like, uh, some therapists have to go into a space, which is maybe a room they don't have on a regular basis, that you're bringing sort of your own kit with you.

[00:31:46] Um, what I try to do, if I'm working, if I have my own room, then it would be very specific in that I would have a range of different toys, different types of materials. It's important that the materials are well cared for, [00:32:00] because. Adults and children sort of view the materials of, as a reflection of how they're being valued actually.

[00:32:06] So you know that, um, that there's choice, there's a selection that, um, there's different sensory aspects, you know, that there might be, um, feathers or different materials or pine cones, found objects. Um, Very much for the first time when a child is going for, or an adult going for therapy, there is heightened anxiety.

[00:32:29] You're not sure, you might have spoken to the person on the phone, a child might not have, you know, you're going into a room with someone you don't know, A room you don't know. Yeah. And you feel that something is being asked of you and actually takes a lot of courage to share our inner world with another person.

[00:32:45] So it's about. Building up trust. And what I might do is, you know, introduce myself and introduce the room and we talk about, I suppose the, the boundaries of keeping people safe and you know, the time [00:33:00] that we're here and what's okay and what's not. And, um, encourage them if they don't feel like sometimes actually a blank sheet of white paper can be very threatening.

[00:33:10] Yeah. It's like, what do I do with all this space? But might be. I try to let it be, depending on why the child is coming for support, let it be client led, so let them explore. They might want to pick up the pine cone and they just decide, I'm getting paint, and they want to print with the pine cone. Yeah.

[00:33:29] You know, it's more about, it's building up the trust. Ultimately it's about the relationship. The relationship between the artworks, the client, the therapist. One of the things that I've noticed from, from speaking with you for the last hour or so, um, is just the, the cadence of how you speak. Um, okay. And very often it's, it's overlooked as a facilitation tool.

[00:33:53] Um, the volume, the speed, and the approach to actual communication with people [00:34:00] who are. In the sessions, whether they be adults or children. And from working with, um, the awesome occupational therapist, um, Suzanne in, in Dublin with my daughter, I noticed that they do the same thing. They're able to really level the energies by how they communicate.

[00:34:21] I th is that, is, is that a conscious thing that, um, therapists do or is that something that is just na naturally. How you communicate? That's a good question. I think we're all different. And even the people I trained with, you know, a range of different types of personalities, um, I suppose probably there is an aspect of.

[00:34:43] You know, that's my practice, so I'm going into professional mode. Mm-hmm. But I think I kind of, I speak this way most of the time anyway, I think. But you know, it's hard to know really. That's a good question. That leaves me something to think about. [00:35:00] I know, but there's a lot, a lot there for parents and for teachers as well, just to think about if the.

[00:35:04] The house or the classroom is quite frenetic. Being able to lower your energy and lower your voice and lower the emotions, you know, through how you communicate is, is really, really important. It is, I mean, our environment, we know from research, how we experience our environment has an impact on our, our mental and emotional wellbeing.

[00:35:28] And um, I think that's something that I hope in the future. Is taken into more consideration, particularly for children and the layout of space learning spaces. Well look, Katie, I'm gonna put a link to both of your books, um, and your website. Mm-hmm. And probably your Instagram as well, cuz I know you're, you're into Instagram.

[00:35:50] That's how we connected Super like Instagram. Love your Instagram. Um, is there any other social or other links that you want to give a shout out to that we can include in the show [00:36:00] notes? I suppose everybody's different, so we all have our preferences. I am on Twitter, but I'm, I suppose I wouldn't. Be as big a user on Twitter.

[00:36:09] I'm also on Facebook. I have Katie o our Facebook page as well. For those who prefer Facebook aren't very good. Put a links to both of those in the show notes. Katie, listen, thanks so much for sharing your time, sharing your stories, and your, your vulnerability as well, just opening up about your processes as well.

[00:36:27] Um, best of luck with, uh, the workshop coming up in May the 24th. For anyone who's looking to buy the books, the links are in the show notes. I'm gonna be buying them for both of my kids, so thank you so much for your time. Thank you for having me. Jerry's been lovely speaking.

[00:36:49] There you go folks. I hope you enjoyed that episode, and if you enjoyed it and want to listen to more, why not visit? This is hate where you can learn more about what we were up to and also explore our [00:37:00] course Whilst you're there, thanks again for listening.[00:38:00] [00:39:00] [00:40:00] [00:41:00] [00:42:00] [00:43:00] [00:44:00]

John Carter
Tech Vlogger & YouTuber

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