Virtual 1:1 Art Based Coaching – my top 5 tips

In this blog I want to share with you my top 5 tips for one to one virtual art based coaching. They come from my own learning of working virtually with art in both coaching and supervision.

I hope you find the tips helpful and if you have any additional tips please do add them to the comments box below or drop me note. It is always lovely to hear about and share other people’s experiences.

In my next blog I will share my top 5 tips for virtual art based group coaching.

Tip 1 – Send through guidance on how your client can prepare for their space

It is really important that your client creates for themselves an art-based coaching space where they are going to feel comfortable and relaxed. A quiet space where they won’t be interrupted. Send through a preparation email beforehand giving them some guidance on how to do this. This includes materials. Your client will need to have a choice of materials and paper to aid self-expression, enough space to make their art in and have protected surfaces, technology and themselves from spills!

Also, encourage your client to play with their materials before the session so they get to know their materials and feel comfortable with them.

Tip 2 – Agree at the beginning how you are going to manage the virtual space together

With so many different ways to work virtually always check how familiar your client is with the platform you are using for the session. If they aren’t very familiar with it, share how they can mute and turn the video off if they need to. This is important for how you manage interruptions and noisy backgrounds, both theirs and yours. Also check in about sharing screens as this will be needed for exploring your client’s created images.

Finally, don’t forget to agree at the outset what you will do if the connection is lost. We’ve all had that happen!

Tip 3 – Avoid distractions for your client when running the imaging process

The imaging process is the same virtually as it is if you were working together in the same room. However, virtual working can give different kinds of distractions. Therefore, before you begin I offer two suggestions. Firstly ask your client to move their camera so you can see the space where they are going to create their image. Your client can then move seamlessly from mindfulness imaging to image creation, and you are able to observe their process, decision making and body movements. Secondly, invite your client to turn away from the screen so they are not distracted by you or any other activity that may pop up on the screen.

Tip 4 – Use the screen sharing function to facilitate the exploration of your client’s image

Being able to clearly see your client’s image is important for the quality of the observations and noticing that you offer to support your client’s exploration of, connection to and personal insights within their art. The best way to do this virtually is by using the sharing screens function on the platform you are using. Your client can do this by taking a photo of their image and emailing it to themselves (or send via other platforms as they want to). Once they open their image they can share it through their screen. Always check the specific requirements of your platform as it varies!

If sharing screens isn’t possible, your client can move their camera to enable you to see their image, or they can hold it up or put it up on a wall in the room. Please note that where clients are using light pencils, these do not always show up on the screen.

The exploration of your client’s image is then the same as it would be if you were in the same space together.

Tip 5 – Feedback and reflection

My final tip is to always, at the end of the session, seek feedback from your client and for you to take time to reflect on the practice.

Ask your client what they were comfortable with or not comfortable with? What worked well or didn’t? What would they like more or less of? This allows you both to contract for future sessions in a way that works for your client.

As the coach, spend some time reflecting on the session – what were you comfortable with and not comfortable with, and why are you feeling that? Engage your internal supervisor and check to see if you are putting yourself in the Drama Triangle. Why have you put yourself there? How will you move out of the triangle? What changes do you want to bring to your virtual art-based practice and why?

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