Pictures and words – Jodie’s art therapy placement update

Back in February I started a practicum placement with NGT as an art therapist, part of my Master of Therapeutic Arts Practice with MIECAT. What have I been up to? Well a bit of art, and a lot of swamps!

The placement is only 1.5 days a week, so by the time I work on blogs, do communication, visit swamps with Lachie Farrington, and follow up on various requests and meetings, the days go fast. It has taken me a while to get a feel for the organisation, my colleagues, and just how this art therapy thing fits in a nature-based organisation. Inevitably, everything takes longer that you think it will, but I’m learning a lot. It is not an arts residency; that would be making art while hanging out with the organisation/place. Art therapy is another way of knowing, inquiring, and sitting with problems.

In the next two months I’ll be completing my arts inquiry. This is a key assessment task in the placement. The project aims to, “Explore and nurture the relationships that support the restoration and survival of Walker Swamp Restoration Reserve”. For me, the place, plants, animals, and the people are all inextricably connected.

A few people have generously shared some art therapy time with me, and Walker Swamp is a GREAT place to do art therapy! It’s too early in the process to describe what I’m finding (and the work with individuals is confidential) … but at the end of the placement I’ll be writing a summary, and leaving an “artefact” with NGT.

The view from Walker Swamp tower during an art therapy session

As part of the placement I have regular catch-ups with my art-therapy supervisor and fellow students (via an online conference). The others work in mental health, aged care, and youth work; yet we all share similar experiences of listening, paying attention to details, use of language (verbal and body), working with emotions and values, and trying to understand.

Last week we drew the process of our inquiring and producing our final report. It is pictured below, and includes underpinning values, inputs of literature, structure and what we’ve learned in the course, the path winding around whatever it finds, reflections, and the fruit that grow within the field of inquiry. I hope to share some of the fruit with you in the future.

How I’m doing a nature-based arts inquiry

Jodie Honan