How and/or why did you become a therapist?
I had resigned from the Canadian federal public service. At a loss about what to do next, I was soaking in the tub and “art therapy” as a vocation dawned on me. Since I was a teenager, art and expression had been my own catalyst to healing. Beginning in my 20s, I was creating collaborative art events with older adults and young people. After completing art therapy studies, I studied counselling and spirituality. The rest is history.
What are the most rewarding aspects of being a therapist?
The most rewarding aspect of being a therapist is connecting with people and modeling healthy relationship within the therapist/client relationship. On par with these direct connections is the reward of witnessing people in their personal transformations.
What’s unique or special in your background or approach to interpersonal relationships?
I feel like a case in point. My childhood was dark, cold, and often violent. I was subject to poverty, neglect, and poor attachment. I have healed many relationships that were formed in these conditions. I feel like my personal experience has brought me to a place of patience and has made me empathetic and unhurried about the process of others. I was differentiated early in life and I have a strong sense of both separateness and interconnectedness in equal measure. My own capacity to heal drives ‘hope’ in my practice.
What are your favorite or most interesting interpersonal relationship tips/advice?
It is a good idea to ask for what we need and what we want. This does not mean we will get the outcome we want. It is only after we ask that we can make a determination about whether our needs are being met sufficiently…only after all the cards are on the table. Attachment to outcomes often gets people into trouble. This is a model of interdependence over ownership over others.
What are some things about therapy that you want to increase public awareness about?
Therapy is a means to add intention to the direction in your relationship or life in general. The efficacy of therapy is more notable than working through personal growth roadblocks alone. As well, we are able to bring some new ways of thinking and the workable tools with us down our personal path.
What are some of the biggest mistakes a therapist or person in therapy can make?
Again, a strong attachment to outcomes is the biggest mistake we make in my view. Life is a process!
Michelle April is an individual, couple and family Counsellor & Art Therapist with a private practice in Ottawa, Ontario. She also offers workshops to counsellors and other health professionals in creative expression, expanding creative vocabulary and self-care & expression through art-based practices. She places a strong emphasis on intimacy with nature including our own inner natures. You can learn more about her at https://www.michelleapril.com.