Hi! I’m Heather Caruso, an Art Therapist and Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying), of Art Therapy Guelph. I'm a Mom of two boys and fur babies, an author and a healer. I love travelling. I am humble, warm, personable, funny, straightforward and I occasionally cuss. No actually, I often cuss. I love love love art. I love making, looking, and talking about art. Always have. I am delighted to be able to share my gifts. I am over the moon that I get to do what I love each day. My clients tell me they love that I am genuine and super smart but at the same time down to earth. In sessions, they enjoy feeling supported and accepted but when needed I bring things forward to challenge what is not working for them.
I graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a degree in Art History and Studio Art. I am a graduate of the Vancouver Art Therapy Institute and a professional art therapist. I am a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) and a member of the CRPO, the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. I am also a member of the OATA and CATA, the Ontario and Canadian Art Therapy Association. I am trained in cognitive behavioural therapy CBT and trauma counselling. I have taken many courses in art-making and female empowerment.
Since I was 18, I have worked like a fiend. I put myself through university and three major post-graduate courses. I was married at 23 and had boys. My husband was very supportive of my career goals. Early in our relationship, he developed a chronic disease that affected many aspects of our lives - physical, emotional and financial. I worked a lot to keep us afloat but after years of struggle, I was completely burned out. When I finally had a moment to breathe, I took stock of my life and I lost a sense of who I really was. My life became all about working and I had very little downtime. It became difficult to relax even when I had a night off.
10 years ago our family took a week off and rented a cottage by the beach. The kids and I looked forward to swimming and relaxing. However, it rained every day. My 5-year-old was bored of reading so we collected smooth beach rocks. I picked up some acrylic paint. and we spent an afternoon painting rocks. I was amazed at how peaceful I felt immersed in artmaking. I felt like I just meditated. The rock I painted is featured below. After that week of solid rain, I decided to never turn my back on art again.
Van Gogh's Rabbit, 5" x 6", Acrylic Paint on Rock by Heather Caruso
My best friend who I went to the University of Toronto with worked at a hospital as the manager of their psych department. She told me about her colleague who was an art therapist. I was excited to hear about her job. I spoke to her co-worker about art therapy. Although the course she took was in another province, I knew I had to enroll. So in my 40s, with my anxiety in tow and after years of being a homeopath and nutritionist, I went back to school to become an art therapist.
In hindsight, it was unusual to have so many wonderful experiences in one trip. It was like the Gods or Goddesses opened doors for me. I rented a room from a wonderful lady named Gwen who brought me all over Vancouver touring the cultural sites. I hope to connect with her again one day. I met old friends and a cousin that I had not seen in 45 years! It is funny I didn't think much bout them when I was at home. When I saw them in person, I missed them so much my heart hurt. When I walked to class, seals swam beside me along the sea wall. Everything was utter magic and I felt so blessed.
During the course, we learned so much. We also participated in deep psychological work for two reasons, to know how our clients feel and to work through our issues. Honestly, it was tough to face some of the dark spots of my childhood. However, once I worked through it, it allowed me to see the brightness ahead of me. My self-esteem and self-compassion increased 100%. It was freeing!
In hindsight, I believe that the universe rained my holidays to awaken and heal me and show me who I am again. Art therapy changed my life for the better. I am so blessed and grateful to be able to share my gifts with others.
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