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  • Writer's pictureChloe Sparrow

August: Let’s go outside!

Updated: Aug 16, 2020

Chalk drawing underneath the treehouse

This month I’ve been having a great time putting together individual art kits and folders in preparation for art psychotherapy sessions at the Treehouse Art Studio. The current Covid-19 situation means that sharing art materials between clients will be problematic. Usually in the treehouse, the art materials are on display and openly accessible to all, but now I’ve created individual art kits contained in washable folders that can be cleaned before and after use. Perhaps not the most cost effective way of providing art psychotherapy, but a safer option nonetheless. Thankfully other items or tools that can be sterilised in a dishwasher, such as scissors and rulers, can still be shared and washed thoroughly between sessions. With these precautions in place, gloves will be optional during indoor sessions, but face masks will be mandatory for the time being.

Responding as a therapist to the Covid-19 situation has presented me with an opportunity to think deeply about what is actually required in order for art psychotherapy to take place. While it has be fun to think about the art materials, I’ve also been considering the studio itself and the sense of environment in and around the treehouse. My experience of having therapy has been invaluable in terms of reminding me what it’s like to attend therapy. To go somewhere new and meet a therapist for the first time can be a daunting and anxiety provoking experience for some. Therefore I’ve created a short video with the aim of familiarising viewers with the treehouse setting, to help clients feel more at ease and prepared for therapeutic work to begin.

Aside from thinking about the setting, I have had to make decisions on what art materials to provide clients. I was surprised to note during the process of creating the individual art kits, how my preference for certain materials has developed over the years. At first it was a job to let go of these strong likes and dislikes, therefore I decided to challenge myself to pick up some of the lesser used art materials and head outdoors. Being outdoors and offering outdoor art psychotherapy sessions is of particular interest to me. It’s also a helpful way of transitioning back into the treehouse art studio from online sessions. Not only do the great outdoors provide maximum opportunity for social distancing and superb ventilation, it can also help set the scene for the therapeutic relationship to unfold. In my experience, being outdoors and making art outside encourages deep attention to one’s surroundings as well as one’s inner world. It seems to me that being out in the open, can open our mind to new discoveries and challenges.

Creating pattern underneath the treehouse in 2018

I was pleased to discover a new found joy in the art materials of old. Indeed, I had fun with one of the most basic of materials, ‘chalk’, which took me back to playing hopscotch in the playground. Using the chalk as an adult, having greater dexterity and understanding of form, led to some interesting and unexpected art making on the floor underneath the treehouse (which was swiftly washed away following the downpours of late). The inclusion of found and natural objects then allowed for more imaginative story telling and exploration. I was struck by how this humble art material had come alive and provided so many opportunities for being creative that I felt reassured the individual art kits, with their variety of contents, would be put to good use.

So what exactly is in the individual art kits I hear you ask? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see!

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