Navigating the balance between my graduate program, internship, and prioritizing my own self-care during a pandemic has been exhausting; often leading me to question my abilities as a clinician. I have noticed how sustained stress and burnout have affected my ability to be present over the course of this final year of the program. Exhaustion and minimal opportunities for cognitive restoration began to take a noticeable toll on my mental and physical health.
While I engage with other forms of media within my art making, interacting with natural materials or nature imagery became a routine practice for me this year as it provided me with a sense of grounding and peace amidst times of stress and uncertainty. This body of work is a visual representation of turning to nature for support, guidance, and as a form of self-care. This artwork provided clarity and self-confidence in the development of my professional identity as an art therapist. The process of creating this work gave me an opportunity to nurture my connection with nature and the non-human world and eventually helped me to gain a clearer understanding of my own needs as a clinician in order to best serve my clients.