Art  Child-Adolescent Psychotherapy  Education

Deborah Shaer​: artist & Arts Therapist 

Deborah, 13 November 2016, London


Background, education and therapy practice

I was born in London and moved to Los Angeles where I worked in the music and film industry.  I then travelled for about ten years, living and working in various countries including India and Africa, involved in community work connected with meditation, creativity and mindfulness practice.

BA (Hons) in Humanities with Creative Writing, a Diploma in Arts Psychotherapeutic Counselling for Adolescents and a Level 3 Certificate in the understanding and responding to the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. I worked in several secondary schools starting as placements and then as an independent contractor. Currently I am about to complete my first year of my Masters in Child, Adolescent, and Family psychotherapy.  I use the arts, play and integrative drama therapy and counselling in my work with children in a primary school setting.  I also use dry and wet sand play work, a powerfully creative intervention. I have seen immense positive changes in my work with adolescents and I very much miss working with this client base; hopefully I will find the time to work with these young people again. I am concentrating on primary school age children and infant (home environment) and young child (nursery environment) to integrate my study of child development, followed by the interpersonal-social aspects. I am constantly fascinated.

My advocacy of wholistic, nurturing and creative education

From an educational and political standpoint I believe that those of us whose experience of working with children and young people with deeper core issues should be involved in government-educational decision making. The deficits in knowledge of the social brain, and the impact on learning and behaviour for individuals whose young lives have been wrought with unseen trauma are unknown areas in the government educational sector.  Implementing education policies without consulting a cross section of child-adolescent psychotherapists - especially those whose work is integrated with the arts and play - is essential. Many tragedies could potentially be avoided, including re-traumatisation that go unnoticed in schools through punishment and the lack of psychotherapists overall in schools. The brain of a stressed out and/or traumatised child cannot thrive developmentally or achieve decent grades for good reasons that should not be ignored. So, the repetition of behaviour issues, detentions and exclusions are in my professional opinion, unfathomable when the real needs of a child are unknowingly perpetuated. Social impairments and violence acted out in the streets need our professional skills to help decrease the intensity of gang warfare, bullying, sexual assaults and knife killings. No child should go hungry whether it be nutritionally or starved for loving, empathic and appropriate affection. The absence of nurture is, for the most part, a key component of maladjustment.

My paintings

When it comes to my own artwork the process is somewhat like an unknowable journey. I don't do preliminary sketches or any planning, and I may not even intend to do anything beyond a doodling, which I find therapeutic. So, when I do begin to work on something it can start out as a scribble using pencil, pen or ink or splashing paint on a canvas.  I experiment with the space and juxtapositions of shape, colour and texture to find the expression and emotional temperature of my subject as it emerges in the moment.  I usually work in layers and whatever mistakes arise become a part of this process.  I tend not to use a ruler to make straight lines unless the intention of the image is to appear sharp.  I prefer things to be non-symmetrical, like people and nature.  I consider the effect of underlying texture or colour seeping through as a parallel process, such as a person’s past experiences building character and depth in the way that may shape some aspect of their personality.

Copyright Deborah Shaer 2016. All Rights Reserved