Valerie Popowski


Having partly been brought up by my deaf grandparents, I had to be creative in my way of expressing myself, in fact, I never considered this as a handicap, but an asset. Not only do deaf people communicate with sign language, they also use facial expression, and body language. Deaf people have a very creative way of expressing themselves. For me, as a child, it was evident being raised in a deaf environment. Who would have thought that that creativity would influence my professional life and my approach of the world?

In 1998 I graduated at Hogeschool Provincie Antwerpen (Highschool in Antwerp) , followed by an international traineeship at a psychiatric institute where I worked with autistic children, children with ADHD, and victims of incest. I also had the opportunity to work at a medical-educational institute conducting children with learning and or physical disabilities.

I then extended my field of work to assisting abused women at a shelter. I gave my first Art Therapy group-session in that shelter to women who never had the opportunity to assert themselves. I will never forget the day Madam X was given the chance to throw a terracotta statuette she had made of her partner, through the window, asserting herself maybe for the first time. The relief on her face really touched me. The experience I gained at the shelter enabled me to acquire a good comprehension on the complexity of family violence and its consequences.

By now I was fully convinced…Art Therapy is a tool I want to use and share. My final thesis was "The Art Therapy for battered women. A theoretical approach.", and I continued practicing at the shelter where I initially started.

When the shelter closed its doors, I worked at a family planning centre. This allowed me to deepen my knowledge in area's dealing with divorce, dependency, abuse, homeless people,... I continued to give art therapy group-sessions in various shelters as a freelance.I saw so many women open up during this creative process that it hardened me in my decision to continue in this direction.

In 2001, I started at Child Focus where I worked for 12 years as a consultant in missing children. I was the link between the parents of missing children and the police/the judges.

One evening, my husband and I watched the movie « Into the wild ». Following that event we opened a debate on our way of living, our responsibilities, my youth dream to travel for which I was never ready, different cultures,… A joined decision between my husband and 2 sons to make a world trip of 10 months soon followed, that, and one year of planning it.
I'm lacking words to express to what extend that trip changed our life. It is clear that we had to face ourselves and that being twenty four seven with your ​​husband and children is sometimes difficult. But it's undeniable that my inner journey has allowed me to reconnect with myself as a woman, as a mother, but especially with me as an individual in the world.
This transformation also led me to the essential. It was time to get out of my comfort zone and tame my passion.
Time for Art Therapy!

Exprecious was created immediately upon my return.