MIECAT Research: Experiential & Creative Arts Therapy

Today is the Art Therapy Alliance Facebook hop day for my page Natalya Garden Creative Art. I have decided this would be a good chance for me to also share my research which I recently completed as part of my Masters by Supervision in Experiential & Creative Arts Practice/Therapy at the MIECAT Institute.

The MIECAT Institute is a “not-for-profit higher education provider that offers accredited post-graduate courses in, and conducts research through, experiential and creative arts. MIECAT inquiries are dedicated to the idea of lifelong pursuit of meanings that enable individuals to participate effectively in the work force as well as contribute constructively to society. Human meanings are constructed in the purposeful search for understanding that is found in relational experiencing. MIECAT uses a multi-modal, experiential arts approach to the exploration of meanings and the choices for action. This form of inquiry is based in respect, compassion, and commitment to the search for ways of living that support the flourishing of the planet” (Mission Statement, 2014).

As part of my professional placement during 2012 – 2013 I adapted the MIECAT form of Inquiry in community arts (children, teenagers, adults, women-specific, trauma recovery & resilience), creative arts therapy (mental health & disability, children with disability) and in arts based research.

My arts based research was informed by my personal experience of what I have come to call Creative “Stuckness.” After graduating in 2004 with a Bachelor of Visual Arts, I struggled to find my way in the art world. I discovered I was not alone but part of a disenchanted community of “stuck” artists. Despite this being a common experience, I found there was a significant gap in the research and literature about what life is like for visual and fine art graduates and the challenges they may face.


This project inquired into the experiences around creative “stuckness” of three visual and fine art graduates. The MIECAT form of inquiry was adapted in a series of companioning sessions. An emergent, multi-modal and arts-based research approach informed all aspects of data generation and meaning making. Collaborative and participatory ways of knowing underpin how this research was conducted. As I was part of the same community as the participants, my experience began to impact on the research. I used art to make sense of this experience and eventually reflexivity became an important tool that enabled me to insert my own voice into the project. The MIECAT procedure of intersubjective responding became pivotal as I negotiated my role as a researcher who was also a creatively “stuck” artist.

Below is a snapshot of some of the art that I made for the participants during the research. Some of the artworks I made included soft sculptures, lino prints, movies and sculptures (head over to the thesis link at the bottom of this page for more information on the images that I have included below and how I came to make them in response to the participants data and the research project.)

Sparrow pony ISR Little One ISR print DSC_0233 Screen shot 2013-06-24 at 12.49.56 PM

You can read my thesis Life After Art School: An Inquiry into Fine & Visual Art Graduates’ Experiences of Creative “Stuckness” along with other MIECAT graduates’ research at creativeartstherapyresearch.

As a budding Arts Therapist it is important for me to share the work of myself and other Australian practitioners with the rest of you in the International Art Therapy World and also with those who are interested in Arts for Wellbeing & Health.

Thank you to wonderful Art Therapist Advocate Gretchen Miller and Art Therapy Alliance for continuing to promote Art Therapy through social media. Don’t forgot to jump on over Art Therapy Alliance’s Hop Headquarters to explore the work of other Art Therapists and Art Therapy Students around the world this month!

Thanks for reading and happy hopping.

Keep creating,




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