By Karen Bradley
“It does not matter what the end product looks like, it is the process of exploring our inner dimensions, and our connections to the outer world, that we are focused on.” --Fyre Jean Graveline, Circle Works
Mental health services on the Eastern Shore can be spotty, but we are blessed to have several practitioners who utilize the creative arts as a part of the therapy they provide. One of the most well known is Fyre Jean Graveline, RSW, RCAT (Registered Social Worker and Registered Creative Arts Therapist), who lives and works in Musquodoboit Harbour.
In a recent interview, she described her practice as inspiring people to come into a creative engagement with whatever they want to work on. She asks two key questions to consider in the healing journey: “What is challenging or difficult right now? And also, “what is working well now?”
“Our sessions are not about making great art works,” Graveline said. “We are working with the story of what is stuck, how did the person move this issue in the past and how can we move this in the future?
Art therapy uses art making practices, including collage, drawing, painting, sculpting, designing, etc. to engage with the nonverbal aspects of our inner lives. A session can involve talking but will include any of the processes by which art can reveal inner feelings, concerns, or histories. “I work with two aspects,” Graveline said, “discharging stress and creating a safe space to remember when they were happy and/or relaxed.”
Establishing a sense of hope for a better future is important. But the therapy is also a process of deepening the understanding the person has about what is going on and the safest ways to try out new solutions.
People come in with a wide variety of concerns, including workplace problems, relationship issues, anxiety, depression, or simply stress about the state of the planet. But Graveline does not focus on diagnoses. Her approach involves listening and observing. “I will suggest a technique or idea,” she said, “something I have found useful in my own life circumstances. I have practiced what I suggest. If people are inspired by it, we can try it out in the session or they can take it home to work on in their own time.”
She shared that she sees youths who are in transition to adulthood but who are struggling with finding agency and a sense of direction. She also sees parents concerned about their adult children, or about an active and dysregulated child, couples who bring stress from work into the family, or people who have been bullied or emotionally or physically abused at work or in the home.
Her goal is to help each person find their own pathway to inner peace, better relationships, and a sense of being able to cope and connect with the community.
Creative arts therapies are effective ways to explore your inner life and to find your way through what is an increasingly difficult world. As Graveline says, “Try Art for a change!”
Circle Works Counselling can be contacted at 902-889-7469 or email firstname.lastname@example.org