My expectation of the artistic therapy with Anniek
Before having sessions with Anniek, since my early teens up until now in my middle years, I had lived with a depreciating view of myself. Over a number of years, this had manifested in choices which led to a series of relationships, friendships and health choices which, looking back, were consistently damaging to me.
Through the process of finally acknowledging this negative repetitious pattern and facing up to the steady decline in my wellbeing, I had realised my predicament wasn’t everyone else’s fault and there was something in me which needed to be resolved so I could move on in a positive way.
Whilst explaining my troubles to a close friend, who had had therapy with an anthroposophical arts practitioner before, they suggested this type of therapy might help me too.
I recognised many of the issues I was experiencing stemmed from trauma in my childhood, and my friend had explained this type of therapy is very helpful in resolving these issues. So I decided to find a practitioner and begin therapy.
At this point it was a great relief to acknowledge to myself that something was wrong, my life wasn’t headed where I wanted it to go and I needed outside help. I didn’t have to pretend to the outside world that everything was OK anymore.
After searching for an anthroposophical arts practitioner in the local region, I found there were none locally but several in London. Anniek came most highly recommended, so I decided to contact her to see if therapy with her would be possible.
When I first spoke with Anniek on the phone, my sense of relief was nurtured and I immediately felt I had made a good decision to contact her.
She was very understanding, professional and caring, and I felt very safe to talk about the inner issues, which I wanted to resolve. This was very healing in itself and Anniek took time to listen to what I would like therapy for and explained what would happen in the sessions.
Anniek also explained the principles of the therapy and its healing mechanism. She did this in very clear and easy to understand language, which I much appreciated.
I had not ever taken an extensive interest in painting or art before, and my technical skills reflected this, but I was happy to learn from Anniek its not at all necessary to be a painter or artist to benefit from therapeutic arts sessions.
I came to the therapy sessions with a clear expectation which I’d gathered from my initial phone conversation with Anniek - that we would proceed gently and with care; all I needed was to be myself and explore and paint the emotions I felt during the sessions.
I knew that there would be no immediate ‘cure’ and that for the therapy to work best there would need to be a course of sessions; and that it would take time, patience and will from me to allow my emotions to surface so they could be expressed on the canvas.
I understood that Anniek would work with me to help guide my paintings and facilitate awareness of the emotions expressed in them. Overall I knew that it was going to be a joint effort and my part was to be expressing my thoughts and emotions through art and Anniek would be a guide and interpreter in this process.
My experience of online therapy with Anniek
I live several hours away by train from Anniek’s practice. When I first started having therapy with her I would travel down to London to attend the sessions. I looked forward to this each week and the therapy sessions were excellent.
However, even though I was enthusiastic, I began to realise the cost and the energy it took to travel to and through London, was diverting some of ‘me’ away from the therapy session - I would arrive a bit tired and my journey home would occasionally come into my mind at times at the end of the session, whilst I was trying to focus on my art.
When I shared my feelings about this Anniek kindly suggested that we could continue my therapy sessions online via a live video link on Skype.
Anniek provided me with a list of simple and affordable art materials that I would need to have on hand, and told me I would need to make sure my internet connection could support the use of a web cam; which although its not particularly fast by today’s standards, it easily could.
So I gathered the art materials, which were easy to find online, and in a local stationers, and once a week, at a prearranged time just like a regular appointment, I would have my therapy session with Anniek on Skype. It was very much like my previous sessions in person and it worked perfectly.
As part of this online method, Anniek instructed me on how to take care of, store and label my paintings from the therapy sessions, which was easy to do. At times we would review paintings I had created previously, just like we had initially done in my sessions in person.
Although sessions in person would have been optimal, due to the distances involved, overall this was a fantastic solution and it meant I was able to fully focus on the therapy and devote all of my energy to the sessions.
As I have experienced both in person and online sessions with Anniek, I can say although different in nature, nothing is lacking in the online sessions and only benefits are present for you if distance from Anniek’s practice is a problem. For others that are not able to attend sessions in person I can wholly recommend this solution, it works really well.
How I feel I benefitted from artistic therapy with Anniek
From the positive life changing results which have followed, I can say having therapy with Anniek was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It has been a defining moment in living in a more genuine way and relating to myself with love, which has facilitated joy and happiness in my life.
There are still the same ups and downs, but I relate to them from a positive perspective. I now am finding myself through daily life and seeing a reflection of the genuine me in the new, more empowered and healthier decisions I am making.
Through the therapy sessions, I realised the consistently poor choices I was making before, were due to me projecting a false persona to the world - a barrier to keep myself from being hurt, to convince myself everything was OK and to portray a picture of outer success. This divide between my internal world and the external world I was creating, was the source of my pain.
To be able to see this, sometimes literally, represented in the images I was painting, meant I was to be able to quantify it and work with it - the source of my pain had become a known. I was no longer afraid of this pain, and the process, with Anniek’s careful guidance, gave me the courage to overcome these old hurts which were manifesting in my life in different ways.
The mystery had been solved and now I knew what I had to do - just to be my own self, based in joy, and let go of this redundant old persona; which in retrospect was a hurt child trying to make sense of the pain it had experienced, and of the confusing world which wasn’t perfect like it wanted it to be. In essence I began to grow up. Having therapeutic art sessions initiated my process of becoming a fully formed adult.
I feel my life has begun now. Previously, I now clearly recognise, I was just making do and getting by. My self confidence was low, my ego precariously and protectively inflated. I could not imagine the future with me in it. I felt guilty and ashamed of my self. I felt like a failure. Before having therapy with Anniek, this felt like my reality because it was all I had known before that point.
Before this therapeutic journey, this daily emotional ambience meant I felt a feeling of consistently waiting to become myself - though in my heart, I knew these negative feelings were something which had been projected onto me a long time ago, and in that way didn’t ‘belong’ to me and I wasn’t them.
Fundamentally, I felt like an unhappy child or adolescent waiting to leave home, but unable to find the key to unlock the door into the world.
Therapy with Anniek, has enabled me to find those keys by ‘seeing’ them represented in the images I created.
I now feel I’m stepping into myself and the world, and making in me, my own new, happy home, which was there all along.
Anniek is truly an amazing person. I feel it’s a blessing she’s a therapist and helping others. She has inspired me in many ways and to think of her work gives me courage to be the best I can be. The sessions with Anniek have helped me to find faith in the good in myself and understanding the good in others, and the human experience as a whole. She enabled me to find joy in myself and in my life, for this I am truly grateful.
In short, to anyone considering having therapy with Anniek, I wholly recommend her, she is an outstanding and life enhancing therapist.
Simon H. from Norwich