“I understand how challenging it can be to walk through the therapist's door, so I find ways to keep clients engaged in their own treatment.”
What was your path to becoming an art therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
My path to becoming an art therapist was not linear. As an undergrad, I studied fine art with a concentration in photography, but I always found myself in psychology classes to fulfill other academic requirements. After college, I spent several years in and out of various creative fields such as film, commercial photography, and fine art gallery work, then landed in fashion. It was my time at Ralph Lauren where I learned the ups and downs of working for a large corporation. Working within a team was an invaluable education, but it also gave me insight into what I truly wanted in a career, which was the ability to help others and to continue to learn every day.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
I listen to what a client is asking for and give an honest assessment of how I can help. Understanding treatment goals and expectations is helpful right out of the gate. My approach is humanistic and goal-oriented, with a holistic and mindful approach. I understand how challenging it can be to walk through the therapist's door, so I find ways to keep clients engaged in their own treatment. I will often pull from mindful art-making approaches as a way to begin treatment and allow space to reconnect to it as the therapeutic relationship grows. As an art therapist, I am specially trained in understanding how to use art material to help whomever I am working with explore feelings and ideas in a non-verbal way.
How does collaboration with other providers play into your work?
I welcome working with other clinicians to bring the best care to my clients. When working with someone who may require more support, like a psychiatrist for medication management or a couples counselor to discuss their relationships, I feel it is important to branch out and build a team.
What excites you most about the evolving mental health landscape?
I'm most excited about the potential to stay connected and maintain consistency with telehealth technology. There have been many times where it has been helpful to have the ability to keep in touch with clients while traveling, or if they relocate to a different city.
If you could pick one or two books that influenced your approach to therapy what would they be and why?
Reading biographies and nonfiction helps me stay close to the human experience. I recently read “Just Kids” by Patti Smith and “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah back to back. Both are reflections of artists' early lives with small pieces of how they grew into who they are today. Although neither one is wrapped up in a bow, they both share stories of trauma and challenges, which may or may not be relatable to all of us.
“I'm most excited about the potential to stay connected and maintain consistency with telehealth technology.”
Interested in speaking with Cheryl Walpole?