As part of The Vision Project we took time to talk to our wonderful participants. In this series which we have called PEOPLE OF VISION, we explore how they came to join in with The Vision Project and what they have taken away from it.
1. How did you get involved in The Vision Project?
Emma approached me about the Vision Project as we’ve known each other for many years. Emma knows my love of the arts, as well as my profession as a counsellor so it seemed like a really good fit to get involved.
2. What appealed to you most about getting involved?
I am fascinated by the link between mental health and creativity. The positive effects of doing something creative on our mental well-being are well known and more and more research is being done in this area. I was keen to be involved in order to witness this and perhaps do some research of my own. I also have a passion for music, dance and art so it felt like such an important thing to do.
3. Why is art/creative media so good for us?
For so so many reasons!! Being able to express ourselves enables a release of emotions which has obvious benefits. Sometimes people find it hard to speak about what they are going through, or express their feelings through words. Finding another outlet can mean that emotions and experiences that have been bottled up can be released in a really safe and positive way. Another benefit is the mindfulness aspect. Much of our anxiety is rooted in the past or the future; worrying about something that has happened or worrying about something that is going to happen. By focussing our minds on a creative project, we are staying in the here and now and not worrying about anything! Also, creating something gives us a sense of achievement which can raise positivity and give us a sense of purpose. I could go on and on about the benefits but I will bore you senseless!
4. Having you as a counsellor has really helped in our workshops - how does your experience help in these workshops?
The people at the workshops have been incredible, and really open about what life can be like. It’s felt like a privilege to be there and get to hear people’s stories. I don’t know if it helps, they are probably just wondering who the nosy woman is who keeps asking them questions. But I’ve got a real sense of how the workshops have felt so important to those attending.
5. How did you get started as a counsellor?
I went through a period of quite bad depression a few years ago after my marriage ended. I responded in some really negative ways and tried to cope by drinking too much and behaving pretty badly. I ended up going to the doctor and was given a course of online counselling which I found really helpful. I became very interested in talking therapies and decided to start a Level 1 course in Listening, just to see if it was something I could do. Well, that was a few years ago now and I haven’t looked back!
6. The past few years have seen a huge overwhelming wave of change for all of us. What would you recommend as top level elements to think about with change anxiety?
The past few years have been horrendous. People have been dealing with really tough situations, whilst being isolated from family and friends and without being able to access their normal coping strategies. My main mantra is always, SELF CARE SELF CARE SELF CARE!! We have to look after ourselves in order to keep going. So find the things that nourish you and top up your personal battery. For me that is exercise and enough sleep. If those two things are happening, I can cope with a lot more. It’s also worth noting that they are completely within my control. I can always exercise, I just need to make it happen., and its up to me to make sure I get to bed early enough.
I’ve been working with some people from Ukraine who feel they have no power or control over what is happening. In this situation, we bring it right back in to them. What CAN they control? One lady who is now in Poland started taking a half hour walk around a park each day. This might sound like a small thing, but it got her away from the news, into the fresh air and got her moving which relieves stress and boosts mood. Always think about what you can use your personal power to do, even when things seem awful.
7. How do art and creative workshops like The Vision Project help?
The sense of community that I’ve witnessed at the workshops is incredible. When people feel like part of something, they feel less isolated. Each of the workshop leaders has managed to create a collaborative atmosphere where people are interacting in a really safe and non-threatening way. The non-judgmental and supportive way that the groups are run mean that no-one is scared to have a go, even if it’s something they’ve never done before. The beauty of every single creation is so clear and yet they are all so different, it makes it feel like you can just be free to experiment.
8. A little nightingale told me that you can sing and can be found acting on stage - what other creative outlets do you have?
I love anything creative! I really enjoy photography, especially families and children. I really like capturing moments that make people smile to look back on. I also love to walk and can often be found hiking around the British countryside. I guess that doesn’t sound very creative, but it always feels like a creative experience, looking at the colours and the landscapes.
9. What have you gained from the workshops?
It’s just been an absolute privilege to be involved. I’ve gained lots of knowledge about the links between creativity and mental health and I’ve also gained a massive appreciation of how important projects like this are for the community. I can only hope that things like this become more and more widespread and I’d like to say a massive thank you to Emma for having the ‘Vision’ and the drive to get it off the ground. It’s just incredible.
10. Having you as part of The Vision Project has been so helfpul. We have all really appreciated it. How can people get in touch with you regarding counselling and your services?