Dr Catherine Camden Pratt is a Lecturer in Art Therapy in the School of Social Sciences and Psychology at Western Sydney University. Catherine’s clinically-led teaching is informed by her private art therapy practice in which she works mainly with women, children and their families, and also facilitates art therapy groups for Cancer Wellness Support. As well as this, she draws on many years of working with creative arts in education, and in personal and social change.
Catherine is a social ecologist informed by feminism, poststructuralism and critical psychology as ways to open up questions of power and voice. She locates art therapy performatively as a practice of social justice, and is passionate about making art as a way of knowing and of sharing stories for which there are no words.
She has over 35 years of experience in creative arts-based teaching across a variety of contexts. Her teaching is student-centred and foregrounds critical creativity as a way to enable understandings about ideas of identities as shaped by society, culture and politics.
Her PhD shared the stories of women growing up in families with a mother with a mental illness. Arising from that research she wrote a popular book- Out of the shadows: daughters growing up with a ‘mad’ mother (Finch, 2006).
She also co-edited the book- Social Ecology: Applying Ecological Understanding to our Lives and our Planet (Hawthorn Press 2011).
Within social work there is a small but growing band of art therapists. In preparation for a podcast conversation with social workers who also are art therapists , I thought it would be useful for me talk to Catherine first, as someone who trains art therapists.
The conversation that emerged was not quite what I had anticipated, as we explored the long and winding road that brought Catherine to her current role.
She honoured me with a very personal account of her journey. She also shared with me her beliefs about what the art therapist brings to the interrelation space – and through our talk, I gained a better understanding of how art can tell a story in one place, and the powerful therapeutic effect that that might engender.