Sarah Vugler | Reading

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How would you describe Drawing and Talking in its simplest terms?

Drawing and Talking is a gentle – yet effective – early intervention for people requiring extra support for their mental health and emotional wellbeing. Over the course of twelve weeks, the participant is safely guided by an expert practitioner to reframe and revaluate their difficult or traumatic emotions and experiences.

Why are you so passionate about Drawing and Talking as a supportive intervention?

I can’t think of a single person I know – child or adult – who wouldn’t benefit from a quiet, safe space in which to explore their deepest feelings without fear or judgement. I have seen for myself the positive changes in the children I work with, those who have trusted me to hold their space for them. I never cease to be amazed at the unique take every child has on their incredible journey and feel honoured to come along for the ride!

What is the age range of those you work and enjoy helping the most?

Until recently, I have been working as a Teaching Assistant in a primary school providing this intervention to children from the ages of 6 years upwards. I love helping children who are silently crying out for someone to have their back, those who might, for one reason or another, struggle socially or to emotionally regulate. Holding space unconditionally for them, week in and week out, says more than words can ever do. That first commitment to our twelve weeks together is the most important one of all. The children that test that commitment are often those most richly rewarded by the process.

What areas of emotional wellbeing are passionate about supporting?

Having recently lost a family member to a sudden illness and then being privileged to support my own mother through the final stages of her cancer journey, I am struck at how beneficial this work is for those experiencing a loss of any kind. Our relationship with grief changes with time and with the perspective of age so I would love to work for a local bereavement charity supporting children as they grow and develop.

How has the pandemic impacted the mental wellbeing of those you help?

I think it goes without saying that we have all been deeply unsettled by the wide-ranging changes to our society, relationships and daily routines. Certainly, working in school, I have seen first-hand the incredible toll this has taken on our young people. I am grateful we are all talking more about mental health and hope that this leads to a funding commitment to be able to practically support our young people as we come out of this crisis.

Whilst using Drawing and Talking, what is your greatest success story?

Every child I have worked with has cut a groove in my heart in one way or another, with their own unique journeys expressed so differently each time. One child in Year 6 was reluctant to come to sessions. We took a break and, before doing so, I gave him a small token so he knew I was thinking of him. I did have my doubts that he would ever return as I think he found it hard to sit with all his complex emotions. One day, I just casually asked if he fancied giving it another go. I got a very cool ‘yeah ok Miss’. I waited until I got round the corner before I started fist pumping the air! He went on to complete his sessions before starting secondary school.

Where are you holidaying this summer and why?

This summer will be spent enjoying the sandy beaches of Dorset and the bustling streets of London as we have decided on a split break to make the most of what England has to offer! I am excited to laugh at my dog who is always petrified of the sea and take my children on an open-top London bus just as I did at their age. This Summer will certainly be about making memories after the tough year we have had.