North Superior Art therapy

North Superior Art Therapy Services Uses Digital TBay Mentoring to Help More People Heal Through Art

By Nancy Saunders

Through her thriving mental health business, North Superior Art Therapy Services, Tamara Reynolds channels her passion for the power of healing through art. A long held interest in art and early plans to become a high school art teacher led Reynolds to earn degrees in both visual arts and education. After her studies Reynolds spent time in the military and then joined the Thunder Bay Police, where she worked for close to 30 years before retiring in 2018. She returned to school to get a graduate degree and is now a registered psychotherapist and professional art therapist. Reynolds offers support to individuals experiencing depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and grief, drawing in part from her own experience using art therapy to process grief after the death of her father, and as a tool in healing trauma resulting from her work as a police sergeant.

“When I did my graduate degree, you had a choice to do a thesis or you could do a major project called a heuristic research approach, which is what I chose. It's qualitative rather than quantitative research, and it was me examining how art therapy has helped me as a first responder heal through my PTSD symptoms. That’s how I approach a lot of things that I do with clients; I've done it myself, I've done the exercises. The art prompts that I give them are things that I've actually done. For my major project I did 54 days of straight art making and journaling about the art, journaling of all my thoughts and feelings and then put it into my book.” 

Reynolds describes the benefits art therapy can provide to a diverse population and touches on some of the techniques she uses with her clients. “The beauty of art therapy is that you don't have to be an artist in order to do it. It's about engaging in an artistic and creative process. And a lot of the things that I do allow people to just experiment with paint, or colour, or clay, or art materials, collage … They don't have to be an artist in order to do art therapy. I get a lot of people that come in and say, ‘Oh, I can't even draw a stick person.’ Well, that's perfect. Then let's drop some paint. And it's a really cool thing to watch them as they create something–they go, ‘Wow, I created that!’”. It's about the process and being mindful while you're doing the art. I find that when people are engaged with their hands, or they're doing something, they're much more open to talk and there's actually a lot of talking. It combines the artistic or the creative part of it and also some talk therapy.”

While art therapy has a longstanding history globally, it was relatively new to Thunder Bay.. “There was no one that I was aware of offering exclusively art therapy when I started.” Looking for ways to bring art therapy to a broader clientele, Reynolds accessed the free mentoring services offered through Digital TBay. “I was looking for ways to market my business that were either free or that were cost-effective for me as a sole proprietor. I wanted help and for someone to look at my website and see if it needed to be tweaked a little bit. Those were my goals going in,” she says. Through Digital TBay, Reynolds received strategic guidance on ways to maximize her business’s online reach and engagement without requiring a large budget. 

Digital squad member Brian Abraham met with Reynolds, and together they worked to enhance the structure of her website. “I had a few video calls with Brian and he said, ‘You know, you might want to consider this for the website, like creating pages rather than having it all on one website or one page. He gave me some really good resources to use on my website.” Abraham also took 360-degree images of Reynolds’ office that she was able to include on the North Superior Art Therapy Services website, further enhancing her online presence.

Brian also helped Reynolds fine-tune her business’s Facebook ads. “Brian was very, very good at helping me with Facebook ads and I’m already seeing results from that. A lot of the clients that I've had in the last couple of months have found me through a web search, and I think that's a direct result of the Facebook ads. That was something that Brian suggested, because I told him I do Facebook ads but I'm not really sure if they're doing anything. He made some suggestions about increasing the parameters for the Facebook ad and stuff. He also walked me through that process a little bit as well. It was very helpful,” says Reynolds.

Reynolds quickly noticed benefits from the changes she made under Abraham’s guidance. In a short time, the business expanded its client base by 20, attracting regional clients and boosting visibility through Reynold’s improved marketing strategy. “I would definitely recommend Digital TBay’s mentoring services. I already have,” says Reynolds. Once uncertain about its digital approach, North Superior Art Therapy Services now thrives with an updated online presence, increased engagement, and a larger number of clients accessing art therapy services.

Interested in taking a free mentoring session?