Claudia McGowan is our Creative Arts Therapist and below is an outline of how Claudia works with students at Nightingale Community Academy:
I work with students in secondary education, generally offering once weekly therapy sessions.
Therapy aims to provide the young person with a supportive and containing space and with the possibility of building a positive and consistent relationship with a trusted adult. Within the safety of the therapeutic environment a young person can begin exploring significant past and present experiences, and to engage in a process that will help them make sense of current difficulties so as to find new solutions to issues that are negatively impacting on their lives.
Young people can choose to verbalise their thoughts and feelings, or they can decide to access the art materials made available to them in the room.
Young people are often naturally drawn to symbols, making, and graphic representations and therefore are attracted to art as language. The externalisation of an internal stress through art will allow the young person to gain some distance from the problem or dilemma and to work with the therapist towards a resolution.
I generally adopt a non-directive, person-centred approach which allows the young person real choices on how to use the materials and on what the focus of one particular session should be. There are times when a more structured approach that utilises focused or directive techniques would be beneficial to facilitate further progress and it is therefore adopted as either the primary therapeutic modality or in combination with non-directive techniques.
Mindfulness: I am a trained mindfulness coach and when appropriate I incorporate mindfulness skills in the sessions in order to encourage affect regulation and the development of skills useful in the management of stress, anxiety and anger.
Family work: I aim to work with parents as much as possible so to support them in the use of behaviour management techniques in the home environment and to develop healthy patterns of communication within the family. When appropriate, joint parent-child sessions may be advised.