Janet Walker Expressive Arts Therapist

Background

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The three foci of therapy, education and the arts have been important for me throughout my life. I am a Registered Clinical Counsellor and hold a Masters Degree in Expressive Arts Therapy and Psychology. I have done extensive training in many expressive therapies including play therapy and sand tray therapy, as well as training with the Neufeld Institute on an attachment-based developmental approach to understanding children. In addition, I am a certified teacher and have been working for Le Conseil Scolaire Francophone (The French School Board) since 2004. 

My formal artistic training is mainly in dance, with explorations in many other modalities including voice work, theatre, clowning, creative writing, and visual arts whenever life provides the opportunity. When I practice art, even if it is only finger painting with my children, or singing while washing dishes, I feel an energy shift, and I know that I am positively affecting my health and well-being. Many times, I have arrived to do a dance performance or gone out to a social dance exhausted by the multitude of tasks and responsibilities that we all have in a modern, high-speed society, and by the end of the event, I feel transported to a more positive frame of mind, and a more energized and alive state of being in my body.  I am convinced that it is essential for us all to nourish the body-mind-spirit connection in a society that is more and more ruled by digital life and lack of physical engagement in the aesthetic and natural world. 

As a young adult I participated in a Canada World Youth/Jeunesse Canada Monde exchange between Tunisia and Canada.  Working as a volunteer in a medical centre, living in a Tunisian family, participating in local holidays, learning the language, seeing the Gulf War develop through the lens of Arabic state television and living in a less consumer-oriented culture - everything about it had a profound impact on my worldview, my values, and the way I communicate with people.

I am a lover of languages. I feel that each of the art forms is a language, with a specific vocabulary and way of transmitting messages to other people.  I have enjoyed learning the basics of many artistic “languages”, as well as world languages such as French, German, Dutch, and Arabic because I love how it allows me to communicate with a wider range of people and in different ways. My immersion into any new language has been a rich and exciting learning experience.  This has made me very sympathetic to anyone learning something for the first time, be it English, painting, or dance. 

Gardening is an activity that I find inherently therapeutic, and it has been of service to me in times when I feel like things are getting too much, and I need to get grounded by getting my hands in the dirt.  I like to explore with my clients what their own naturally therapeutic activity might look like.  I am a mother of two young children, which gives me a personal understanding of the great challenges and great joys of parenting. I use Expressive Arts Therapy with children in psycho-education groups at Family Services, and I have a private counselling and expressive art therapy-based practice in Vancouver, BC.

Waiting at the Doctor’s Office

 Yellow on my skin
Arms, legs, stomach
Swimming in rays of sunshine
Slowly warming up to the day
And absorbing what they can.
I have a dream
If I can survive myself
And live life to the end
Fully awake
I want a veranda
And a rocking chair
And a body that can get around the garden
And up and down the stairs
And time
To sit, and look, and enjoy
Drinking in the sun

Professional Credentials and Affiliations

  • Registered Clinical Counsellor, BC Association of Clinical Counsellors (member #6443)
  • M.A. in Expressive Arts Therapy and Psychology (European Graduate School, Switzerland) 
  • Certified Expressive Arts Therapist (Langara College)    
  • Member of the BC Play Therapy Association
  • Synergetic Play Therapy Course (Lisa Dion of the Play Therapy Institute of Colorado) 
  • Numerous Expressive Play Therapy  Certificates ( Marie-José Dhaese of The Centre for Expressive Therapies )
  • Intensive Training Certificate: Making Sense of Kids (Neufeld Institute)    
  • Teaching Certificate (Simon Fraser University, Faculty of Education)    
  • B.A. French (University of British Columbia)
  • Diplôme d’Études Universitaires Françaises (Université Jean-Moulin, France)
  • Guest Student/Artist (European Dance Development Center, The Netherlands)
  • Contemporary Dance Professional Training Program (Main Dance School, Vancouver)
  • Modern Dance Training (L’École de danse de Québec)    

 

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A Family of Caring Professionals

I grew up with a mother and grandparents, as well as a large circle of their friends who were deeply involved in psychological self-study and service to others in the healing professions. From the very beginning of my life, I experienced the helping and healing professions as a normal and valuable part of society, and yet, as a child, I had the awareness that many people stigmatized others who even thought about getting counselling help for problems they were experiencing. Now, counselling, therapy and other helping modalities have become much more available, accessible, and accepted.

My grandfather and grandmother were both Jungian psychotherapists, having studied and done analysis at the Jung Institute in Zürich, Switzerland. They were founding members of the Jung Society of San Diego. My grandmother, Katie Sanford, author of The Serpent and the Cross; Healing the Split through Active Imagination, continues to see clients and work as an analyst at the age of 100.

My mother, Lynette Walker, author or Mothering, Breast Cancer and Selfhood, a psychological exploration of what contributes to wellness and illness, is a Jungian-oriented psychotherapist and Registered Clinical Counsellor practicing in Langley, BC. During the 1980s, she was one of the only counsellors using sand tray therapy and play therapy with children in the Fraser Valley, and now focuses on guiding people on their personal journeys to healing and wholeness using depth psychology.

My brother Chris Walker, Canadian Certified Counsellor, is a great explorer of the outer world and the inner world, specializing in work with youth, adults and couples, as well as therapy for post-drug and alcohol users. He maintains his private practice clinics in Langley, Abbotsford, and Surrey, BC.

Heather Walker, my sister, is a teacher of the Alexander Technique, a psychosomatic approach to physical, mental, and emotional balance. Alexander Technique practitioners and their students are highly aware of the link between how we use our body and how we use our mind. As students advance in their study of self, they gain insights into patterns that they can release in the mind as well as the body. Heather teaches Alexander Technique at her studio in Nanaimo, BC, as well as in Vancouver, Québec and in conferences in the United States. 

Heike Walker, my sister-in-law, was trained as an Alexander Technique teacher in Berlin. She is also a Certified Foot Reflexologist and Bach Flower Remedy Practitioner. She notes that in her private practice, as she teaches and treats people with chronic pain or other physical symptoms, it is common for individuals to open up about emotional pain and  discomfort, underlining the link between physical and mental wellbeing. She has a private practice in studios in Langley and Surrey, BC.