It has been one year since I struck out on my own and moved into my art therapy studio!
My mantra for this year was: choose maintenance over growth. Slowing down, easing into routines, figuring out the schedules that work best for me and trying not to rush to the next best thing.
I wanted to spend a year just as myself, as I am right now, without the pressure to perform or prove myself. I stopped taking my business classes and any continuing therapy education. I wanted to just be, and know that my knowledge was already sufficient and my presence was already enough.
As a person and as a therapist, I pushed up against feelings of “not enoughness” almost daily, especially in times of financial instability. When it feels like I must be doing more, achieving more, I have found comfort and solace in coming back to my rituals, routines and plans over and over again.
I have a ritual for when new clients enter my studio. I ask them to walk around and observe the space. This is a process called orienting, a principle of trauma-informed care. It builds safety in the mind and body to know what to expect in our surroundings.
One of the first things that people notice is the plants. So often, entering into a therapeutic setting can be challenging and anxiety-provoking. In my space, we can orient toward aliveness, hope and growth.
I love that my studio is not just an office, but it is also a home for all of these plants. We breathe the air that these plants breathe.
We are alive and growing and need nurturance and care just as they do.
Looking back at old photos, I can see how much these plants have grown, even though it feels like they are the same day-to-day. The plants have been witness to every single one of my therapy sessions.
I have a new understanding of my mantra now. Maintenance is not the opposite of growth. It is simply quiet growth.
Just as I watered and cared for these plants, I cared for myself. I really felt myself come alive in this environment. I encouraged my clients to do the same. To slow down. To simply be.
Maintenance is not nothing. It is choosing aliveness, again and again and again. Quietly growing, morphing and changing.
That’s what I hope my clients get out of their therapy process. A knowledge that they are enough exactly as they are, and there is always opportunity for reflection and change. We are alive, just as the plants are alive, and our instinct is to grow.