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Working in an Auckland mental health care facility, former Taranaki girl Stacey Waterson noticed that a lot of the patients were keeping incredibly creative journals, creating remarkable drawings and leaping at the chance to express themselves through acting and performance roles. 

This got Stacey interested in a rapidly emerging global movement that is yet to fully catch on in New Zealand– arts therapy.

“Art – and by that I mean all the different forms of art, not just drawing or painting - offers a point of difference to traditional therapy,” says Stacey, who expanded almost a decade of experience in mental health to embrace this new form of therapy.  

"Arts therapy lets people communicate non-verbally. When words cannot describe experiences, people utilise the arts to tell their stories, and can find paths to healing and transformation they might otherwise miss,” Stacey says.

“This can be especially useful in dealing with trauma, which is not always stored in one place in the body, and can’t always be put into a verbal narrative.”  

The full spectrum of creative outlets can be utilised to safely process past experiences, though participants don’t have to be creative or know how to draw.

An evidence-based therapy, arts therapy embraces a variety of theoretical frameworks that span elements of counselling, psychology and the creative arts modalities. It is a therapeutic choice which can work well with other health models and interventions, and can improve and enhance physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being, providing a holistic therapy which recognises the interconnectedness of mind, body and spirit. 

Stacey works across both referrals and private cases, and is planning workshops to help introduce arts therapy to a new audience.
With a Master’s degree in arts therapy and professional registration with the Australian and New Zealand Arts Therapy Association under her belt, Stacey returned to Taranaki, which she felt offered the opportunity to turn her passion into a profession, and offer arts therapy to Taranaki people.

While researching how to set up her business, Stacey came across the Venture Taranaki website –
www.taranaki.info - and discovered the free Business Startup Clinics that VT offers. 

“I booked a clinic and thought I’d go along and see what Venture Taranaki had to say,” says Stacey, “and I’m glad I did!”

Her meeting with Start-up Advisor Sharon Albrechtsen helped Stacey plan all the necessary steps towards getting her business off the ground and growing sustainably and steadily. 

“It was really good to get a big picture overview of what I needed to do and what my next steps were. Sharon was really approachable, could relate well to my business idea, and shared my enthusiasm for it.”

Being in New Plymouth was another factor that helped Stacey to get over the line towards starting her business.

“Finding the right space was the biggest barrier to starting, but fortunately space in New Plymouth space is affordable and I’m able to share a space with an artist.”

And as word spreads about Stacey’s skills and business, her client base is growing. 

“My advice to anyone else looking to start a business based on their passion and skills is to give it a go. And go and talk to Venture Taranaki.”

Clinics are offered in New Plymouth every Wednesday and in Hawera and Stratford once a month. Appointments are essential. 

To book contact Kayleen at Venture Taranaki on 759 51643or

  Turning a passion into a valuable business  
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