Brianna Kestle is a Registered Psychotherapist and Art Therapist who offers individual art therapy for kids and adults in her private practice. Brianna’s approach uses mindfulness, creative expression and play as ways for people to share their stories. Brianna enjoys good coffee and watercolour painting. Brianna’s warm and friendly spirt is a pleasure to have around 44 Gaukel!
ABO sat down with Brianna and asked a few questions to get to know her and the way she works a little better.
How long have you been at 44 Gaukel? When did you move in?
I moved into the building in November of 2018, and then I opened my therapy practice in February of 2019!
We’re so happy to have you join us! What are some of the things you enjoy about working in Downtown Kitchener? How is it different from other places you’ve worked?
I love the convenience of working downtown – in many of my past positions, I’ve had to commute. Working in my own office is really different for me, because while I’ve done a lot of work with different agencies on a contract basis, I didn’t have my own therapy practice or office space before I moved into Gaukel. I also love being close to Victoria Park and taking breaks to walk outside in the summer!
Victoria Park is so beautiful and definitely a nice walking-break area! So, you’re out walking in the city and then it’s lunchtime. Where is your local go-to lunch place?
Banh Mi Givral Deli. Best Bahn Mi sandwiches, hands down. It’s a hidden gem.
What is your general day-to-day like at work?
I usually start the day with planning and answering emails before I start seeing clients. I like to see about 4 clients in a typical day, with breaks scheduled in between for me to process what happened in the session and decompress. I have a “cozy corner” in my office where I like to meditate when I need to feel a little more grounded. I also have time set aside each day for admin tasks and writing clinical notes, and I participate in clinical supervision every other week. Each week I try to make time for things like marketing, making my own artwork, and I usually have a “catch-up” slot for anything I’ve missed that week before I hit the weekend.
What do you find are your most important tools when working? Anything you can’t get through the day without?
I recently started using a practice management software (specifically made for therapists) called Owl Practice, and it’s been a lifesaver for staying organized with my schedule, invoicing, and clinical notes. Watercolour paints are another tool that I use really frequently – they’re one of my favourite art tools to use for myself and with clients. Also, lots of coffee and soda water.
What might someone be surprised to know about you/ your company?
That my office was completely a DIY renovation! My family helped me put in new flooring, paint and decorate. I really wanted it to feel cozy, but also bright and colourful. I’m so happy with how it turned out!
Congratulations, your office did a total 180! It’s great that your family was able to help you out as well. On that note of supporting each other, is there anyone who has inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
I learned about art therapy from a friend in careers class in high school, and my first thought was, “That’s a real job? Like, the kind you get paid for?” This question stayed with me throughout my postsecondary education, and I spent a lot of time wondering whether it would be a viable career. I changed my major every year of university because of my uncertainty. Then, during my graduate training in art therapy, I met two of my best friends – Rubi Garyfalakis and Kevin Farrugie – and I knew I was in the right place. Without them, I wouldn’t have survived the intensity of the training that’s required to become a therapist. We are all therapists now, and they constantly inspire me to keep learning more about myself and keep developing my skills. As a therapist, especially working in private practice, it’s really important to surround yourself with a supportive community who understands that it can be a tough job, but it can also be really magical.
That’s so great! It’s always special to find people like that. What is something that you wish everyone else knew about your field? Any misconceptions that you’ve heard and would like to address?
One of the biggest misconceptions about art therapy is that you have to have some kind of experience or special skill in art making in order to benefit. Art therapy is really not about creating a beautiful finished product; it’s about using the creative process to dig a little deeper, and access parts of yourself that might not be reached just through talking.
What is next for you?
In the next couple of years, I hope to keep building my practice and my skills as a therapist. I’m currently working on completing a Therapeutic Models of Mindfulness Certificate through Laurier’s Professional Development program.
Looking at all the stuffed plushies in your office, I have to ask do you have a favourite animal?
My favourite animals are cats! My partner and I have two, Wallace and Tabitha, and they’re a pure source of joy and love.
Anything else you would like to add?
I’m currently accepting new clients in my practice, and you can visit my website here to learn more!
Thank you so much Brianna for sharing and we’ll see you around 44 Gaukel!