My Trauma Story pt. 2: The moment my voice was completely taken.

8th grade (2007-2008)

First, let’s take a moment and laugh at the awkward beginning stage of puberty. We ALL have been there. Every time I look at this picture I think, “Uh, where the fuck are my eyebrows?” I obviously recently discovered waxing. Then there’s the bulky plastic jewelry. A true fashion statement for the teenyboppers of the early 2000s. This picture cracks me up even though it can still bring sadness, and that is polarity for ya. Welcome to the game of life.

I know the upcoming blog posts can seem intense, but I have finally reached a point where I am not afraid to talk about trauma. I have also learned that talking about trauma does not automatically make it completely dark. Trauma is a normal part of life. If we are neglecting it we are neglecting a part of ourselves. I am starting to love each aspect of my past. I love little Kelsey even when she was in survival mode. She was doing the best she could and because of her present Kelsey is thriving. 

**trigger warning**

The exact timeline on this traumatic event is a little blurry. I had blocked it out almost immediately after it happened up until I went to therapy a year and a half ago. It either occurred summer going into 8th grade or summer going into 9th grade. I do know that I was not in high school yet. 

I was in the process of going to a specialty doctor to see if growth hormone shots would be effective for someone my age. Usually if a child is going to get growth hormone shots they are taking them around the age of 10 and I was a few years older than that. For some reason the topic of periods came up. I had not started mine yet, which was not completely unusual. This doctor then told me that if he gave me a breast exam he would be able to tell when I would start my period (which is a downright bullshit statement). My parents left the room to give me privacy. 

As soon as the doctor touched me, my body immediately knew this was not right. I could not speak. Time had passed then the doctor got my parents to come back in the room. The doctor continued a conversation about the growth hormone shots. Again, it is a little blurry but apparently enough time had passed of me being alone in the room that my parents thought the doctor already discussed periods while they were out of the room. When the reality was that the topic of periods was never brought back up.

There are so many layers to how fucked up this situation was. I go into further details about the layers, how to protect children, and societal programming around sexuality in my podcast, Creating Light with Kelsey, on episode 4

I look at that picture above and I do feel sadness. That Kelsey was lost. But I know now it was a part of my journey. I would not change my trauma because then I would not be who I am today. There is light and darkness in this world. If I would not have experienced sexual trauma I would have just experienced some other type of trauma. It was SO HARD for me to accept the fact that bad things happen and sometimes there is nothing we can do to prevent it. I have also learned that now I am safe, it is in my ability to heal, and take my power back. Through my healing process I became aware of that moment creating various limiting beliefs for me that I am still deconditioning today. I will continue to dissect this story in other posts. 

There are a few other sexual traumas from adulthood that I will share in the next post. Then future posts will get lighter. Sharing my darkness is important to me. I want to be vulnerable and show that I have been there. I want other survivors to know they are not alone. I have gone through some shit, but I am also coming out on the other side. Darkness did not snuff out the light. 

Thank you for being here. I know every single person has experienced trauma in some shape or form. I want you to know that you are strong. You can reach a point of thriving. With one decision at a time you can come back home to yourself. I believe in you.

When we see the light in ourselves, we create light in others.

Much love,

Kelsey

My Trauma Story pt. 1: Beginning to tell my story

5th grade (2004-2005)

I know that sharing my trauma and healing story will help others. I have shared my story to hundreds of people before, but this feels different. I am writing a blog that has the potential to reach millions of people I do not know while possibly staying on the internet forever. This is also the first time I am giving further details of each major incident.

This feels heavy.

Maybe it is because I am staring at a picture of myself from 5th grade. This picture represents where most of my story began. I am feeling the density of this intricately woven path of life I have endured. To most people this can seem like a cute yearbook photo. To me, I see the change. The inner change that happens when you survive trauma. I see little Kelsey’s spirit has been broken. 

Talking about trauma and pain is not easy, but it is a part of life. This is who I am. I dive into the heavy stuff. I am here to be an example. So, I’m showing up and embodying the courage to have these conversations to create change.

**trigger warning**

In 5th grade I moved to a small town of about 1,500 people. The entire 5th grade was literally one classroom’s worth of children. I was the new kid in a town where new kids barely existed. For some reason I immediately became popular. It quickly shifted from people wanting to be my friend to boys wanting to be in a relationship with me. There were about 20 boys in the class and most of them sexually harassed me all year. I remember constantly thinking, “If this is what popularity is I don’t want it.”

4th grade {before the trauma}

It felt like on a daily basis for the entire school year I would have a boy catch me alone, come up to me, and describe what they wanted to do to me sexually. They were constantly talking about my body like it was an object for pleasure. That I was not even a person. I felt trapped. I did tell my parents I was being bullied (I did not know the words for sexual harassment as a child), but I do not remember anything coming of that conversation. I think my teacher was notified of the bullying then the boys just became sneakier with finding me alone.

I could not even go into detail with my parents about what these boys were saying to me because sex was so shamed in my household. At that age the only thing they told me regarding sex was that it was for marriage and it was bad if you have sex before marriage. So, how could I tell them about all these sexual things that were occurring in the 5th grade? I did not have a voice and all year those boys were continuously chipping away at my voice. I was truly afraid for my safety. 

6th grade {after the trauma}

Then during the last week of school, a boy said something sexual they wanted to do to me and my friend heard it. God bless her soul. She told me this was not right and we needed to tell a teacher. I remember trying to brush it off saying this happens all the time. She insisted. Then I told her how I essentially did not have the strength to tell an adult. (I don’t think adults realize when a child tries to tell you something that has happened to them and they still end up not being protected that child will most likely stop telling you when further abuse happens)

That friend set up a private meeting with our teacher and told her what I had been going through all year, but what sucks was that it was the end of the year. At that point nothing could really happen. I ended up moving to a different state to get away from the abuse. 

There you have it. A brief insight to the beginning of my story.

Thank you for reading it, and I hope you feel less alone. If you are interested, I also share this story on my podcast, Creating Light with Kelsey, in episode 3. On there I go into further detail of my current mindset of the trauma, and how I have let go of blame regarding my parents, the boys, and the teacher. 

Experiencing sexual harassment for an entire year of my childhood was fundamental to my being. It was a part of my program that then led to further abuse which I will continue to share. I adopted the belief (which was supported by society) that boys treated me this way because they liked me. This was just boys being boys. It was something that I needed to accept instead of fight against, and in some twisted way I should like it. That it was okay for girls to be treated this way. That it was normal. 

Well FUCK THAT!

It is time to rise up and change the narrative. This is not okay. This past year and a half I have started diving in 100% to reconstruct my sexuality. It has been a dark yet liberating journey. I have come so far. I am regaining my voice. There is still significant healing in store for me (spoiler alert the healing never ends), but with each new layer of pain I get to work through I feel myself becoming stronger. Becoming the person I was meant to be all along. The abusers did take my spirit, but I am taking it back. 

There is light in all of us even when we have survived trauma. You have the power to rediscover your light. If you need help figuring out where to start your healing journey reach out to me and I can give you resources. I will also be sharing self-care tools in future posts that anyone can practice. I believe in you. Now it is time to believe in yourself. 

When we see the light in ourselves, we create light in others.

Much love,

Kelsey

What Is Art Therapy? pt. 2

In part one of What Is Art Therapy I discussed the education and training you would need in order to become an art therapist. It can take 8-10 years before an art therapist can see clients on their own unsupervised! Now, in part two, I would like to share the healing that can take place in an Art Therapy session, and what a client can expect. 

Art Therapy is about the process not the product. You could come in with absolutely zero experience with art and still benefit. Art Therapy is for everybody! It is simply a tool you get to use to express yourself. It is a judgement free zone, and I will never critique your artwork. My job as the art therapist is to be a guide for clients along the healing journey. I will guide you on how to use the supplies. I can give specific instructions on what I would like you to do with the materials. Each session varies. Sometimes clients prefer structure and like to be told exactly what to do with the art. Other times, clients prefer more freedom. Either way, I become the observer and then facilitate specific questions to get you thinking about what you are creating. 

Yes, I do watch you make art, but I promise after a few sessions it will not feel weird. I am already used to it. I know how to hold the space for you while sitting in silence. You will be safe with me. I will also be super intrigued with how you make art! Watching you create is a part of my process of getting to know you as my client. This is the beauty of Art Therapy. Words do not have to be spoken for healing to be taking place.

I believe that words alone are not enough to release trauma. Although, talking about your pain is extremely helpful, the use of art gently takes it to a deeper level. The body often remembers what the mind does not. Creating art is a physical act that gives the body an opportunity for it to share its story. Art taps into the unconscious mind. It brings important information about the self to the surface. These may include various thoughts, experiences, pain, and trauma that can then be processed. With continued use, it can increase self-awareness. 

It is pure magic, I swear.

I am going to be real with you. Therapy in any setting is not a quick fix. It can take a few sessions just for me to get to know you before we even begin to lay down the foundation. Then, as far as actually confronting your trauma, I will not make you go there if you are not ready. This process will revolve around your needs, and it is your choice on how you would like to navigate your healing journey. Healing is a process. When it comes to addressing trauma, I will not be diving deep into your darkness until I help you establish self-care tools first. If I encourage you to open up an emotional wound in session when you do not know how to nurture yourself at home, that would be damaging. 

You know what is best for you! I am just an outside perspective that can guide you when you need it. 

When a client is new to Art Therapy, I slowly introduce them to the creative process. I do understand for most people this is a foreign way of expressing themselves. I will do my best to not overwhelm you. During the first session I normally explain what Art Therapy is and will start out with a simple drawing to break the ice. But most of the session you will be sharing your background and why you have come to therapy. I know therapy can feel intimidating, so I try to set the atmosphere to where you know it is a safe space.

I will continuously discuss all things Art Therapy on this platform I started on Creating Light with Kelsey. As you follow my personal healing journey, you will learn the ultimate lows I experienced, the breakthroughs, and how art was there through it all. Art has become a tool of self-care for me. I am so excited to share with you the power that art contains. 

When we see the light in ourselves, we create light in others.

Much love,

Kelsey

What Is Art Therapy? pt. 1

To simply put it, Art Therapy is therapy with art. It is counseling, and, no, it is not “those inkblot things.” I can understand the confusion though. However, psychologists are required to have specific training in order to administer Rorschach inkblot tests. 

First, I would like to explain the training and education art therapists have.

An art therapist goes through their own specific schooling, which enables them to ethically practice as a mental health professional. In order to ethically call yourself an art therapist you need to accomplish 3 major things. Firstly, you need a Bachelor’s degree with specific undergraduate classes in fine arts and psychology. Secondly, you need a Master’s degree from an accredited Art Therapy and Counseling program. Thirdly, upon graduation, you, as the new art therapist, would have to obtain 1,500 direct client contact hours. These hours have to be accomplished while being supervised from a Board Certified Art Therapist before you can completely practice on your own. Those 3 major things are not easy things to check off the list. 

I am currently on the third major thing. I recently graduated and handed in my application to receive my ATR-P credential, which is the provisional step to becoming a registered art therapist. Once I have my ATR-P I can begin working towards my 1,500 supervised hours. THEN when those hours are complete, I can apply to receive my ATR, and I will be a registered art therapist! Additionally, if I want to be Board Certified (which I do) there are more things to complete.

So. Many. Things. 

I was in my Master’s program for over three years taking classes year-round. Most semesters I was taking 3 courses which is the max amount you could register for. There was specific Counseling classes I had to take, along with specific Art Therapy classes. Art Therapy programs also require hands on experience with clients as a grad student through internships. The American Art Therapy Association requires almost 100 more client contact hours for students to complete in their internship compared to a lot of other counseling programs. Then, my program required students to write a thesis. Which, if you know, you fucking KNOW. It felt like I was getting two Master’s degrees. In a way, I was, because once I finish the required post-graduate client supervision hours, I will be able to have multiple credentials behind my name. I will eventually be a Board Certified Art Therapist and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. 

Now, I realize all of this could sound like a pissing contest, but I go into this detail to show how valid this field is. 

Not everyone in the mental health world views Art Therapy as a legitimate profession. It is viewed as less than, and people believe art therapists do not have the knowledge to be “real” counselors. When the reality is, art therapists most likely have MORE education and training than licensed counselors and social workers. Many organizations art therapists work for strip them of their title and only allow them to be called counselors. Even with all this work, companies try to give art therapists a shit salary while also not giving a budget to provide art supplies. 

It can feel like a dog eat dog world out there. And I am sure music therapists, play therapists, dance therapists, drama therapists, etc. feel the struggle as well. I know it has challenged me to stand my ground, use my voice, and honor my worth. Which is scary because I am a brand-new baby deer out here trying to find my way! There is a difference between “making it work” and accepting an offer from a mental health organization that would leave me struggling to make ends meet when I am more than qualified. 

One last important thing then I’ll get off my soapbox!

There is a current battle the American Art Therapy Association and its members face. We encounter other mental health professionals who have not acquired the appropriate training yet say they offer Art Therapy in their services. So, if you are on Psychology Today or other search engines looking for a therapist and they say they offer Art Therapy but do not have ATR-P, ATR, or ATR-BC behind their name, they are NOT qualified. Working with art while holding the space for a client in their most vulnerable moments is an intricate process. A person can easily cause harm to the client when using art if they do not know what they are doing. Which goes against the ethical principles and professionals could be reported for doing so. 

Can you tell I am passionate about Art Therapy?

In the next blog post, I will describe what happens while in an Art Therapy session! Going to see a therapist can be an intimidating experience. It definitely was for me when I first went to see a therapist, and I know for me it is helpful to have somewhat of an understanding of what to expect before investing in anything related to healing. Thank you for taking the time to read about the training behind Art Therapy! It takes around 10 years before an art therapist can practice completely on their own. Which is wild, but it just goes to show that I GOT YOU! I do know what I am doing. This is my purpose. I am here for you and to be a guide throughout parts of your healing journey.

When we see the light in ourselves, we create light in others. 

Much love,

Kelsey

Welcome To The Healing Journey.

Welcome to my blog! Thank you for stopping by, and thank you for having an interest in being a part of my healing journey. It is my hope that through sharing my story it inspires you to have the courage to live yours.

My name is Kelsey. I am an Art Therapist who has been called to share the trauma I have experienced. To embody my inner courage to start difficult conversations. It is also a part of my mission to share specific healing modalities I practice like Art Therapy, tapping into divine sexuality, exploring spirituality, and much more. So, welcome to this new phase of life that I am embarking on! You are now a piece of my nearly unfiltered healing journey. Join me on this human experience and bear witness to the life stumbles that happen along the way.

This is my first ever blog post. I am not entirely sure if I have even read a blog before. Maybe I have read one in passing not noticing what I was reading. Nevertheless, as I started to create my website and podcast I received an intuitive hit to also write a blog. Well, here I am showing up to do so! I already feel myself in this very moment while typing that my perfectionistic characteristics are creeping in. That I “should” be more prepared, but to hell with preparation I want to just start. I am stepping into new territory, the unknown. I will figure out this whole blog thing along the way.

If you had read the words Art Therapy and thought, “What the heck is that?” Do not worry I will go into further explanation of Art Therapy in the next blog post. For now, I shall exercise my elevator speech. Art Therapy is counseling. I am a therapist, but I utilize art materials in nearly every session. Anybody can participate and you do not have to be good at art. Talking about our pain is difficult. Art is a way to express that pain while guiding us in finding the words that can seem impossible to say. I am grateful to have discovered this profession. It is quite different than traditional counseling which I absolutely love.

Again, thank you for being here. You could even be the first person ever reading this post! How cool is that? I hope you continue to pop in while I share my life. I did not expect sharing my trauma story with strangers to be a foundational aspect of my adult life. Especially while entering the mental health profession. I feel like most therapists do not go there on a public level to maintain a sense of professionalism, but, fuck it. So, stay tuned! It has been quite the process in finding my voice, but I have finally arrived. I am excited for what is to come.

When we see the light in ourselves, we create light in others.

Much love,

Kelsey