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Victoria Tolchard Art Therapist

There have been two things that have weaved themselves innately around my life since I can remember. Art (or maybe in its broader context creativity) and sport.

If I wasn’t with my Mum or grandmother painting sewing or making miniature gardens in the bottom of a baking tray I was playing tennis, hockey, going to athletics, doing karate or swimming.  My parents encouraged me to try everything and so by the time I was a teenager I was found on the hockey pitch in winter, the tennis court in the summer and I discovered a passion for running particularly cross country!  At home I had access to an envious cupboard of arts and craft materials and a sewing machine. Perhaps not surprisingly therefore, I studied both Art and Sport at GCSE, A level and on into University.

I first discovered the therapeutic quality of artistic activities when I was 19 years old and at University. Having caught a viral infection which affected my energy levels and my balance, I also started to suffer from bad anxiety and panic attacks. I came home, very fearful about life.

My Mum and grandmother were incredibly supportive, helping me to immerse myself in creative activities, keeping me occupied and focused. At this point, I had no idea of the therapeutic benefits of art (creativity) and the theoretical concepts that underpin Art Therapy.  What I did know for sure was that without the opportunity to process externally what was happening to me internally, I may have been unable to return to university that year.

Understanding that process of externalising thoughts, feelings and emotions has continued to be fundamental to my wellbeing. During my early twenties, I experienced the death my Grandmother to breast cancer, my mother to secondary myeloma, a form of cancer and my grandfather – who I am sure died of a broken heart. I continued to use creativity to help find some sense to my grief and I also ran a lot!!!

Having worked in the fitness industry for several years and taken some time out to travel, I decided to follow a different career path. I went back to University to study an MA in Art Psychotherapy as I wanted to build a deeper understanding of the creative therapeutic skills I had been using since my late teens.

Today with 10 years of experience working as an Art Therapist, I am married with 2 children and I continue to run a lot! I strongly believe that being physically active can mimic the therapeutic properties of art making. Hence art and sports are fundamental to the wellbeing of our family life with perhaps a little more glitter in my creative processes than before, thanks to our children!!