Tell us about what you do at THIRA Health
Tania: I am an art therapist as well as a primary therapist. I have the great joy and privilege of being able to run daily art groups as well as see patients on an individual basis. I have always seen art therapy as a unique and powerful tool and one that I feel very proud to be able to use to encourage healing and creative inspiration here at THIRA.
When did you first decide to create a career around art (or mental health)? What inspired your path?
Tania: I really lucked out by stumbling into art therapy. I always knew that I wanted to do something creative, while still doing something that made a positive impact. My first foray into finding that was in photojournalism, but it wasn’t quite the right fit. I found art therapy through the literature out there and it felt like the perfect convergence of being able to have art and creativity as part of my every day, while also helping others. Its not what I pictured for myself as a child, and no I can’t conceive of doing anything different.
What is Art Therapy?
Tania: Art therapy essentially offers a modality in which clients can express themselves in a non-verbal and expressive way. Words sometimes don’t always do the experience of our feelings descriptive justice, and art allows another avenue for that. There is also an inherent soothing and meditative quality to art making that encourages mindfulness and self-reflection to those who utilize it. The parameters within which art therapy can be used are expansive, and the creative methods with which to implement it seemingly boundless.
How does art impact our mental state and mood?
Tania: In addition to the inherent self-soothing and expressive qualities I’ve already mentioned, art can give shape to moods, emotions, and feelings that otherwise may have remained unapproached within us. I’ve seen art-making soothe the anxious, quiet the angry and encourage the joyful.
“I’ve seen art-making soothe the anxious, quiet the angry and encourage the joyful.”
Do you have a favorite artist and medium of art? If so, who and what?
Tania: Though I appreciate all forms and modalities of art, my love of art started and will remain based in photography. Though it is hard to choose, I would say my favorite photographer is Henri Cartier Bresson. He was one of the very first photojournalists and took breathtaking photos capturing what he called ” the unguarded moment”.