Hi, everyone! Anna here. So, I'll be honest. Sitting down to write the first entry to our blog felt super important and super daunting. I enjoy writing, but as an art therapist, I am much more comfortable drawing, painting or sculpting my thoughts and feelings. I also enjoy the creation of art for the process much more than the product. I could care less whether it makes sense to anyone else or looks pleasing to their eyes. But in writing a blog about your business, the whole point is that it has to make sense to other people. That, in part, in our goal for this blog. Helping others make sense of what is inherently so obvious to us: the healing power of creative self expression through art therapy sessions.
For this week's entry, we wanted to introduce you to Create Space Buffalo (unless you're already well acquainted with us, in which case "Hey girl, hey!" (or guy!)
and tell you what we have planned for next month's series.
The Birth of Create Space Buffalo
Create Space Buffalo started as a thought in May of 2017. A "wouldn't it be cool if..." type of conversation between myself and my good friend, Katie Mullaney over lunch. We were getting great feedback about (and were proud of) the work we were doing at BryLin Hospital in our daily art therapy adult groups and also disappointed that there weren't more opportunities for adults to receive art therapy in groups outside of the hospital.
Knowing very little about starting our own business, we challenged ourselves to figure out a way to open up a private practice by May 2018. We started right away meeting weekly, contacting business owners and friends, following small business competitions in the area, reading books and articles, and working with a business coach through the Canisius College Women's Business Center. Thanks to support from professionals, friends, and our families we were able to open our doors in November 2017, 6 months ahead of schedule.
Create Space Buffalo has exceeded our expectations over the past 9 months. Week after week, we are blown away by the bravery, honesty, hardwork, and dedication our participants. Not only do they continually show up for themselves, despite how uncomfortable they may feel at times, but they show up to support other group members, some of whom they only just met. Month after month, we leave the studio feeling fulfilled and proud of the space that we were able to provide for the community.
"But I'm not artistic!"
From our years of experience providing adult art therapy groups, we know that many people get very nervous about what to expect. Usually, the first thing we hear when inviting someone to one of our groups is something along the lines of:
"Oh no! I'm not artistic!"
"I'm not creative!"
"I draw like a kid!"
"I can only draw stick figures!"
and sometimes just a hearty laugh and an eye roll.
If thats you, let me reassure you. You do not have to be artistic. You do not have to consider yourself creative (though we know you are creative because everyone is!) There is NO right or wrong in art therapy. It doesn't have to look like anything in particular. All that matters is that you are taking whats inside-what you're feeling, thinking, struggling with, happy about, nervous about, ambivalent about-and get it OUT.
At one point in your life, probably before age 5, you didn't hesitate so much. You didn't doubt yourself like you do now. If you were 3 years old and I put a piece of paper in front of you with a box of colorful markers, what do you suppose you would do? You'd JUMP in. That's the type of energy we encourage you to pull from if you're hesitant to create. Its not easy by any means, but you'll get there.
A Typical Session
At Create Space Buffalo, each session has a predictable structure. When everyone arrives they can feel free to grab tea/coffee/snacks and take a seat in our cozy seating nook with our custom benches and large windows that face Bryant Street. (pictured below)
Once settled, we begin our "check-ins" in which we hear about highs/lows of everyones week. This is a good opportunity to get to know others in a relaxed setting and ground ourselves for the night.
After checking in, we introduce the night's topic and have a brief discussion around it. We try to keep this relatively short so that we have as much time as possible to create.
We then move to our large custom built art table where materials are either provided ahead of time or participants are free to gather whatever supplies they need from our shelves to starting creating. We are nearby, also making art and making sure everyone has what they need
After about 40 minutes of creating time, participants and leaders alike have the opportunity to share what they created and receive group feedback or questions. The process of sharing artwork is often daunting for first-time participants and we do not make anyone share who wishes not to, however Create Space is a confidential and non judgmental place where everyone is free to express themselves openly, so we hope that eventually you feel comfortable enough to share.
Finally, we go back to the seating area to ground and close our group with a meditation or final thought.
Our Next Session
Since opening our doors, we have provided a new topic each month based on feedback from participants and brainstorming sessions. One idea we have wanted to test out since the beginning is an "Open Studio" format group series, which is what we are piloting this August. Rather than have a set topic for the month, with suggested materials and methods, we are offering a more relaxed opportunity for expression of whatever emotions, challenges, or situations may present themselves each week. We will still have our typical "check-in" and "closing meditation," but we hope that the open studio format will offer more time to create art and greater freedom to address personal challenges as they are experienced. If this format is well received, we will look into adding a standing "open studio" group series each month in addition to our more directed series topics.
As a community art therapy studio, one of our goals is to be adaptable to the changes and needs of the community. We also want to be transparent about what we offer and what participants can expect in coming to the studio. We welcome any and all comments, questions, and suggestions as we move forward, so don't hesitate to reach out via the comments section, email, or phone!
Stay tuned to our facebook and instagram accounts (@CreateSpaceBuffalo) for quick updates and daily inspiration.
Anna and Katie