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Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Jo works for Rock Trust as an Art Therapist in their Wellbeing Team. Rock Trust are a charity who aim to end youth homelessness in Scotland. They do this by offering advice, education and support to young people, and by ensuring that the public, policy makers, commissioners and practitioners understand the issues, make decisions and take action which will end youth homelessness. 

Jo applied to the Training Fund to enable her to attend training on working with looked after and adopted children, exploring complex trauma through art therapy. She also attended training on the use of touch in art therapy to support people who have experienced complex trauma.  

Art therapy is used by the Rock Trust as part of their services to improve the health and wellbeing of the young people they work with. They do this because mental health problems can be one of the factors that lead a young person to become homeless in the first place. The Rock Trust has found that over 50% of the young people who come to them self-assess as having physical or mental health difficulties – and art therapy can help with this.

“One of my clients doesn't want to do any art, but I have found he's quite anxious and nervous in the space. So we actually got loads of fidget toys and puzzles that he can use, and I think that does ground him and calm him into the space, and that's just through the touch.” 

While building up her caseload as a newly qualified art therapist, Jo was keen to use her spare time to learn new things and do research to help her to better support the specific client group she is working with. During each training course, Jo learned specific techniques to use with the young people she supports, including ways of using materials such as clay to ground young people and to help regulate their nervous systems.  

“One of the quotes that I think she used was “clay touches you back”. It's more of a two-way thing, there's a push and a pull. And you ground your whole body in it when you're pushing onto the table. Using your whole body to do that can be good for some people who are maybe disassociating or don't feel grounded in the real world.” 

As well as exploring the use of touch, Jo’s training looked specifically at using art therapy with children who have experienced trauma, which has been incredibly useful in her day-to-day work.  

“The other training I did, was on working with looked after and adopted children, complex trauma and art therapy, and this was hugely useful because basically everyone that I work with here has been through some sort of complex trauma.” 

The opportunity to go undertake this training has been a great opportunity for Jo to develop in her role and career, and to better understand the young people she works with. This means she has been able to provide better and more tailored support for them.  

“I really appreciate it. Especially at the start of my career, having this specific funding that you can apply for has been amazing.” 

For more details on how to apply for a Training Fund grant, click here.  

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