Profiling our therapeutic team – Who is Svett?

Svett has been working as an Art Therapist for the Art Cabriolet at Very Special Kids since 2014. Her relationship with Very Special Kids began with a two week pilot program ran by the Art Cabriolet in 2013, which proved so successful that it turned into a four day program led by Svett every week. The Art Cabriolet is an organisation that provides Creative Art Therapies for children enduring trauma and Very Special Kids are very grateful for their work with our children.

Svett’s passion for creative work with children and families is immediately evident as you step inside the hospice. You may see her at the central table co-creating art with some our most seriously unwell children, aiming to empower them and provide a safe and creative space where they can make art. Her work is person centered, and with a warm and engaging approach she ‘tunes in’ to each child and invites and supports them to have an experience which is very different to their more treatment oriented care. A flicker of a smile, hand movement, and other subtle responses, help her to guide the children. There are often no words as Svett works intuitively, attending to the cues the children give as she creates a space for magic to happen.

There is evidence showing that children with disabilities and serious illness can often miss out on play and creativity, which is so important for a child’s development, with primary focus on more medicalised treatments. Svett with her colleagues from the Art Cabriolet provide balance, and best of all fun. Svett’s way of engaging children and the adults around them is unique, and amazing to watch or be involved with. As she explains “every child is unique and needs to be seen as an individual and not a condition.”

Svett also works gently and sensitively with children and teenagers as they move toward the end of their life, helping children and  families to create a piece of artwork, maybe using hand or footprints or other images to tell a story – a tangible and intimate memory for families to treasure.

Svett has transformed the hospice into a rich and stimulating space. Painted leaves flutter; there is art all around, and during school holidays she and her colleagues provide creative programs and activities carefully geared to the capacity of the children. She has been responsible for winter wonderlands, underwater magic and has a multitude of ideas going forward.

Svett makes the work she does look easy, but she has had long training and experience. She found that her initial training with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology had something missing, so after travelling overseas and writing for children and illustrating, she returned to Australia and completed a Diploma in Transpersonal Art Therapy, combined with another degree, a Bachelor of Holistic Counselling. Currently she is doing her Masters in Creative Art Therapy at the Melbourne Institute of Expressive Arts Therapy.

Very Special Kids feels so lucky to have Svett and her students as part of our therapeutic team.

Written by Mary Ryder, Family Support Practitioner at Very Special Kids