Would you share a little information about your professional background with us so we have some context about the origin of the resources?
I trained to be a secondary school teacher and taught for a few years. It was the hardest years of the my life. I then went on to train as a creative arts therapist and psychotherapist and become a Senior Lecturer on a Performing Arts Degree.
I worked for 10 years in residential care homes with troubled teenagers. I saw time and time again that without call on images and imagery, the change process is slow or doesn’t work at all. with images people engage and the change process often flows in remarkable ways.
I now run a Higher Education College entitled Institute for Arts in Therapy and Education ( academic partner of University of East London) MA in Arts Psychotherapy and MA in Integrative Child Psychotherapy and lots of Child counselling courses using the arts.
Can you give us a brief overview of the Draw On Series from your perspective?
They are to support children teenagers and adults to stand back and think about their lives and make sense of and process major life events.
It is a process designed to help them to then make good choices about what they want to do with their life now and in the future, how they want to live it who they want to be, who they want to be with and what gives their life meaning. As Socrates says, “ The unexplored life is not worth living “. Without standing back you can so easily get stuck in a rut and keep making the same mistakes d
What was the inspiration, thinking or reason that prompted their development?
Because in my work with very troubled children and teenagers, straight forward conversation about feelings just often didn’t work
Using the worksheets “ what I call the third thing in the room “ was far less shaming for them and they got really interested in the psychology of relationships with self and others which is embedded in the drawings. In this sense the drawings offer psycho-education vital facts about what it means to be human
One teenager for example had never realised he was a young carer before doing the relationship page. Another found the word “ shock” on the shock page vital to understanding his painful life as he realised he had had many shocks. He then started to make sense of them, grieve and work through so the shocks stopped derailing his life . So the work sheets can be starting points, spring boards to a really meaningful conversation that otherwise would not take place
What was your main goal when you created them?
To help ease the vital process of reviewing your life and how you want to live it, and processing painful life experiences that if left unprocessed can lead to mental and physical health problems
Were they evidence-based and tested and if so, who with and when (age group, setting etc.)
Yes with various adults ( the emotion cards especially – These adults often could not stop looking at particular cards , holding them once they had identified with them )
The worksheets lots were used with teenagers in residential care and with adults, children and teenagers in private practice over years.
Do you need to be a trained, qualified and registered clinical professional to facilitate sessions using these resources?
No. You need to be able to listen really well and to empathise and feed back that you have understand what the person is saying. .Endless questions without empathy can be dangerous and people often just shut down. And it has be totally non – judgemental listening with no lectures !! But I explain the vital dos and don’ts in the books and with the emotion cards. I would always recommend say at least a short counselling course ( e.g 30 hours) but that said, some people have natural empathy.
I really liked it that the researchers for the Government Green Paper Dec 2017 Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision found that with children/ teenagers age 2-18, to quote.
“There is evidence that appropriately-trained and supported staff such as teachers, school nurses, counsellors, and teaching assistants can achieve results comparable to those achieved by trained therapists in delivering a number of interventions addressing mild to moderate mental health problems (such as anxiety, conduct disorder, substance use disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder)”
Who can access and make the most use of these resources? (e.g. age of end user/their clinical needs/groups/individual 1-1 sessions etc.)
Yes anyone could use the book to do a self review of issues in their life. But they are best I think for practitioners who are helping people to look at their life, work through painful experiences, making life decisions
They can be used in groups, say in PSHE lesson on relationships that hurt and relationships that heal, leading to really good group discussion
There is a new edition of “Draw On Your Emotions” already available and a new version of the “Draw On Your Relationships” coming out soon. Can you explain what new content readers can look forward to in these updated volumes please?
I wrote the first editions a long time ago now. The new editions I think are far more moving, in depth, wider range of life experiences explored. The pictures also have been all re- drawn to be far clearer and often far more emotionally engaging
We are excited about the new add-on cards. Can you share with us how and why these were developed alongside the core resource?
The cards are very powerful. Of course being full colour they can engage you a really strong way. Participants find utter relief in seeing key life experiences relationship experiences and self – states ( which so often don’t get talked about ) there in front of them. The idea is that you lay out all the cards and then simply pick up the ones that really accurately represent you, your feelings, your life, your relationships. There are cards on the market but we haven’t found any that really provide the emotional depth of the cards we have made. Hence our motivation to do so. Humans don’t have little feelings, they epxeirence powerful, intense emotional states and they need these acknowledged. The cards do this.
What is really different about these books and cards compared to other resources available?
I think so many resources on emotions are a bit patronsing – particularly those for children. We don’t just feel sad, cross, frightened and happy. Even young children have complex feelings and self states that, if they are not worked through, not made sense of, can so easily lead to mental health problems.
Will you tell us more about the images used on the cards and the artist?
Nicky is a stunning artist. She trained at The Slade ( top art school ) and can capture the very essence of particular self – states in ways that when you see them on the cards, grabs your attention as they really do speak about some of the most profound feelings we humans are capable of.
Do you have any other projects up your sleeve that we can look out for in the future?
Yes DVDs on attachment play and ways of being in relationship with children and teenagers that bring about emotional change. Its the opposite of spending hours on screen time where no emotional development takes place.
Click Here to buy The Emotion Cards