In my final year of the graduate program, I interned at a child day treatment center where I bore witness to the traumas and hardships of my clients and their families. While creating a grounded and open therapeutic front, in times of personal processing I experienced a substantial amount of countertransference, tendrils of internal rage, and all-consuming dread. The majority of my sensibilities arose from my newly (and still forming) identity transition into motherhood. Many situations that my clients faced or were facing were more plausible due to the ability to use my own child as a reference. Despite the teachings and encouragements in the mental health field of self-care, growth mindset, and self-forgiveness to combat vicarious trauma, I found that the ability to effectively and sustainability implement them was the equivalent of giving one a pipette to battle a wildfire.
Inspired by the art process of the Rorschach ink test, embroidery, weaving, and color theory, I felt that the naturally implemented kinesthetic process allowed accessibility and acknowledgment of my experience. These artworks embody the attempt of containing and validating the guttural reaction of pain, wailing internal sorrow, ultimate rage, exhaustion of expectation and reality, and an outward reach towards optimism. Which in turn gave me the acknowledgment and ability to build resilience in my personal and therapeutic identity without withholding valid emotions.
In this process, I began to accept all emotions and feelings associated with my experience and began to acknowledge the reality over expectation as a therapist, as a mother, and as a person. Through an ongoing process, I was able to validate my own accomplishments, gain self-love, and build sustainable resilience and self-care.