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The forces at play

Heather Devine - Gestalt Psychotherapist + Transpersonal Art Therapist

I had a couple of great sessions with Heather about four years ago when I was still living in Oz and got so much out of it. As someone who can be very cerebral, the combination of ritual and free-form art allowed me to access my subconscious in a very fluid and illuminating way. Learn more about her below.

Heather Devine, Transpersonal Art Therapist, Counsellor and Gestalt Psychotherapist

Heather Devine, Transpersonal Art Therapist, Counsellor and Gestalt Psychotherapist

Sun sign?
Aries.

Can you describe for us your journey in coming to be a transpersonal art therapist +
Gestal psychotherapist.

It’s been one of diving into the depths of self-discovery. Eye opening, revolutionary,
confirming, immense personal challenges, walking remarkably close to my edges, being held
in the unknown and experiencing pure connection with the beautiful people travelling the same path (my clients and of course my mentors and teachers) as well as tapping into the complete core (for me) of what it means to me to be human.

Who/what are some of the people and therapies that have stood out on your own journey of of exploration and understanding? 
In terms of therapies, the transpersonal approach to art therapy due to its influence from
Jungian psychology and of course gestalt therapy because of its influence from
phenomenology, field theory and relational and experimental approaches. In terms of people, I'd say my Mother. 
The courses I have undertaken are very practical, experimental and challenging which allows
for an inconceivable bond to form with all involved, I would call these people my second
family - particularly in my gestalt work. Also, I am unbelievably inspired to have witnessed
dedicated, patient and brilliantly talented teachers that provided this platform and
an opportunity to bring this necessary work back into the community.
Mary Hoang, head psychologist from the Indigo Project has been a huge
support in my personal journey and gave me one of my first opportunities. Check out her
amazing work.

What is involved in a session with you?
My sessions are my psychotherapy, counselling and art therapy skills and processes
combined. A typical session will start with a discussion on what it is the individual would like to bring to our session. We may continue to use this type of dialogue depending on each person’s need, I may introduce a process devised and tailored to help each individual which could involve meditation, crayon drawing, clay work, collage, divination and ritual paralleled with
discussing and amplifying the work through a relational present-centred approach.

Could you please explain to us what Gestalt therapy is?
Ok…where to start...gestalt is very present-centred. There is a focus on the therapeutic
relationship and experimentation, this allows one to try out different behaviours in the safe-haven of the therapy room. Gestalt therapy is born from early psychoanalysis but has come a long way since then, it has been influenced largely by the creative and experiential fields along with eastern philosophy. Gestalt is centred around field theory and phenomenology. It holds the value
that one is able to self-regulate with the right environmental forces. Important to gestalt is also the paradoxical theory of change, when people identify with their current experience, the conditions of wholeness and growth support change.
Gestalt is truly more than just a therapy but a philosophy for living.

Collage by  Kubi Vasak  as seen on Heather's website.

Collage by Kubi Vasak as seen on Heather's website.

How important is ritual in your sessions?
Ritual to me is very important, I try to integrate ritual as much as I can in my sessions, of course depending on one’s need and connection to ritual. For me its something that can take so many different forms. My personal relationship to ritual throughout my sessions is that ritual acts as a container for the work, it provides a platform for action, gives access to valuable and insightful inner resources, a contract that connects your inner self with your outer world, a psychical manifestation that engages more of the senses, environment, brain and body rather than pure thought process. Ritual can be a companion, a guide, a level ground to support you, a language when words can’t be spoken, it can create purpose and produce difference states of consciousness. 

How do you utilise ritual in your own life?
Journaling, recording my dreams, I have created my own divination cards from collage that I use each month. Currently I am training in MiCBT which involves Vipassana style mediation each day.

Who are your sessions, individual and group, aimed at?
Anyone really, these processes are so adaptable and beneficial to a wide array of people. As long as the individual is open to engaging in the therapeutic experience.
At the moment, I am working with people between the ages of 18-55.

Any books or podcasts that you would recommend to the curious?
Podcasts: invisabilia, hidden brain, Women of the hour, Nerdette, shrinkwrap radio, ABC all in the mind, therapy chat, S town, Serial, myoclonic jerk.
Books: 'Women who run with the wolves' and Jung's 'Man and his Symbols'.

Do you have an activity/ritual that you think would be beneficial for readers that you would like to share? One that they can do solo?
I’ve had unexpected and profound experiences with the benefits of dream work, which also many of my clients have also been drawn to. Dream work, through its ability to tap into your unconscious, accesses a vast pool of personal symbology and resources that can have a powerful impact in healing, gaining clarity and understanding oneself deeper.
As soon as you wake up record your dreams as best you can, anything at all that you can
remember. Read over your dreams and ask yourself what message this dream has for you? Become familiar with recurring symbols, themes and story lines. Make notes of these and allow your connection with the unconscious to unfold.
You have heard it before but journaling first thing in the morning is also a great way to filter out your mind for the day. This mind dump can also help organise parts of yourself that perhaps need to be heard and expressed which can allow to help you keep your cool in different situations throughout the day. It’s also a great way to kick start creativity.

Where can we find you?
I currently live in beautiful Austinmer - South of Sydney.
I see clients on the South Coast and at the Relational Institute in McMahons Point Sydney.

You can learn more about Heather and her work via her beautiful website www.heatherdevine.com.au and on Instagram @arththerapy_counselling_gestalt