Creating Art to Help Heal Trauma. Mary Stephanou
Mary is a HCPC registered Art Psychotherapist in the UK, with a degree in Creative Expressive Therapies and Masters in Art Therapy. She is a feminist, human, artist and activist.
Mary currently works with adolescents in schools, who are often referred to as hard to reach young people with challenging behavior. In reality, Mary works with young people who have often experienced trauma, various or multiple types of abuse and come from (emotionally, economically and socially) deprived backgrounds.
Mary also has a special interest in working with older people living with Dementia and has created multiple bodies of work exploring the internal, imagined worlds of people living with this diagnosis. As a practicing artist and art therapist, Mary uses the art making process to inform her own personal/self development and the growth and nurturing of her clients in her practice.
Through the use of art making, Mary recognizes the importance of providing a safe space in which clients can safely be witnessed with love, empathy and compassion, to bring to the surface their whole integrated selves. She is humbled to have authentic human connection with clients who open themselves up to vulnerability, and journey to a place of understanding, consciousness and playfulness.
Art is our one true global language.
What Led to the Specialization of Trauma?
Mary grew up in South London where she attended a school that she describes as repressive. Following this, she then began going to The Brit School and it was there that things changed for her and as she describes it, the seed was planted.
A Crucial Early Mistake
Mary talks about the difference between being Mary the psychotherapist and Mary the human and the difference in the impact this has had on her clients.
Because this is a huge part of my identity. I am part of this world and I want to be able to give something to people in this world. I love to be invited into my client’s world and to make a difference in that world.
- Try not to get caught up in the thinking part of the work, and keep aware for the feeling part to notice what is going on with the client.
- Be really aware of your own countertransference.
- Don’t be afraid to sometimes challenge what other professionals say, trust in your own knowledge.
Mary’s Go-To Books
- A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing: A Novel, Eimear McBride
- Dibs in Search of Self: The Renowned, Deeply Moving Story of an Emotionally Lost Child Who Found His Way Back, Virginia M. Axline