Therapist Spotlight: Chloe Sparrow

Art psychotherapist, Chloe Sparrow

Hello Chloe, can you tell us a little more about yourself?

Hi, I’m Chloe and I’ve been working as an art psychotherapist for just over six years now. I have always been passionate about art in general, both as an observer and a maker, and I have a particular interest in painting portraits. I find faces fascinating and often photograph friends and family for inspiration. 

When I’m not working, I am busy being a mum, which provides me with plenty of opportunities to practice skills in patience, amongst other things. Aside from family life, I’ve been attempting to grow my own organic fruit and vegetables for a couple of years now, learning something new each season. 

What led you to a career in psychotherapy?

I love my job, which provides me with the opportunity to surround myself with art materials while also being useful. The prefix of ‘Art’ in the title Art Psychotherapy is really important to me. This is because I was drawn to art psychotherapy specifically, owing to my own experience and understanding of other therapies. 

I realised that for me personally, relying on words alone was a daunting task, and I was grateful for my vivid imagination which enabled me to bring images to mind to help explore how I was feeling. It seemed logical to me that visual forms of communication could be helpful for many others like myself, and when I finally heard about art psychotherapy as a profession I just knew it was what I wanted to do. 

Since then, I’ve worked hard to understand how art can be used in a psychodynamic manner, as a powerful mode of expression in therapy. It is a great comfort to me that art can be used to find meaning, to explore new ways of being and ways of coping.

Making artwork in a safe and facilitating environment can be extremely powerful, as it can allow you to express yourself in a new and unique way. The experience can be transformative, often leading to new or unexpected discoveries.

Tell us about the Tree House Studio.

The Treehouse Art Studio is a very special place. It is an art studio set amongst the trees, and so it appears like a treehouse. My very talented husband built the studio in 2018, and it was a real labour of love. He did a marvellous job and it is a joy to work in such a beautiful setting. 

It was inspired by my childhood treehouse, which was far less habitable (being basically a few planks of wood nestled in some branches). I’ve always loved climbing trees, which I believe provide a unique perspective and sense of wonder, and the treehouse setting can really help set the scene for therapy. Despite looking very rustic, the Treehouse Art Studio is well set up for clients, with running water, heating, electricity.

What’s the difference between art psychotherapy and nature-based art psychotherapy?

Good question! I’ve introduced nature-based art psychotherapy as an option for clients owing to my growing interest in ecological matters, both in terms of sustainability and in response to current attitudes with regards to the planet. 

Nature-based art psychotherapy is simply my way of describing art psychotherapy that has more of an emphasis on reviewing our relationship with nature. Often nature-based art psychotherapy takes place outdoors. While this is not essential, it can be helpful.

The nature-based therapies in general seem to appeal to those who would like to find a balance between their environmental concerns and modern lifestyles. I think there is growing anxiety around these issues, particularly climate change, and more and more individuals feel motivated to explore their habits and consequences. 

Art psychotherapist, Chloe Sparrow

Do you need to be skilled in order to benefit from art psychotherapy?

Absolutely no skill or prior experience in artmaking is required in order to engage in art psychotherapy, but an interest in using art materials is helpful. The reason it doesn’t matter how skilled you are in artmaking during art psychotherapy is that the emphasis is on the process and approach to artmaking, rather than the final product. Although people can, and often do, make beautiful artwork during art psychotherapy, it is not the main aim of using the materials. 

Making artwork in a safe and facilitating environment can be extremely powerful, as it can allow you to express yourself in a new and unique way. The experience can be transformative, often leading to new or unexpected discoveries. 

You can read more about this in my article, How can art psychotherapy help me?

What can clients expect from the first session with you?

Well, my intention is to always offer a warm welcome. I understand that starting therapy, any kind of therapy can feel like a big step.

My initial aim is to ensure the client feels comfortable with the setting, therapist and mode of therapy. I usually ask some questions to gather a bit of background information and it can be helpful to consider any goals, or the client’s desired outcome of attending art psychotherapy, at an early stage. Following this, there is often time to explore the art materials and start making an initial image either with the therapist or independently, depending on the client’s preference. 

Have you any advice to give someone interested in therapy?

Yes, remember to trust your intuition, it is OK to respond to your gut-feeling about whether or not a therapist is the right one for you. This is your therapy after all and the therapeutic relationship between yourself and the therapist can be central to the success of your therapy. 

Please also check your therapist’s credentials. Talk to them about their training and do ask if you’d like to know more about their experience or specialisms. Think about what you hope to gain from the experience of therapy and share this with the therapist from early on. 

My intention is to always offer a warm welcome. I understand that starting therapy, any kind of therapy can feel like a big step.

Where can people find you?

The Treehouse Art Studio is based in Wivenhoe, Essex. I also offer online sessions too. If you’d like any more information please do get in touch. You can learn more about me, and contact me directly on Counselling Directory, or on my website, chloesparrow.com

I am also listed on the British Association of Art Therapists and on Instagram.

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Ellen Hoggard

Written by Ellen Hoggard

Content Manager and Digital Editor.

Written by Ellen Hoggard

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