Vanessa K Vance (she/her)
BCouns GradDipArtTherapy CSB
I am a counsellor and a somatic sex educator. I recently completed a Graduate Diploma in Creative Arts Therapies at Murdoch University (2021), and am now enrolled in the Masters Program. I studied counselling at Edith Cowan University (Bachelor of Counselling, 2017) and sexological bodywork with the Institute of Somatic Sexology (Certified Sexological Bodyworker, 2014). I am a certified Cuddle Party® facilitator, a certified Wheel of Consent® facilitator and facilitate various workshops and classes on embodiment, intimacy, and consent. I also have extensive experience in the tantric and shamanic arts. I am a cis-gendered queer woman and I am super passionate about providing opportunities for folks to develop stronger and more positive experiences within their bodies, to improve their communication and connection with others, and to experience more power and freedom as a human being. I am deeply motivated about furthering the culture of consent, embodiment, and sexual freedom and advocating for social change through individual awareness and growth.
Professional member of Somatic Sex Educators' Association of Australasia (SSEAA)
Member of Australian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy (AABAT)
Tier Member of The Australian, New Zealand and Asian Creative Arts Therapies Association (ANZACATA)
Level 1 Member of The Australian Counselling Association (ACA)
In 2010, after a decade filled with the stressors of having babies and burying parents, I attended a women’s retreat on the recommendation of a friend. The ceremony and ritual, the deep emotional processes, and the authentic intimacy with my fellow participants at the retreat revived those parts of me that were already familiar with this world and knew I had a role to play in it. During my childhood and adolescence, I had been gifted with the values of emotional self-responsibility, deep insight, and a spiritual connection and yearning. Yet I had also witnessed the depth of unhealed wounds and immense internal struggle that ultimately led to death, grief, and loss; all of which profoundly impacted me and my family. Holding both my wounds that were seeking healing and the fundamental internal resources to work with them I embarked on a journey to unfold my potential both personally and professionally.
In 2012 I ceased my university studies in business law, music, and the arts, and completed a 6-month professional coaching program to become a life coach. Deep listening and presence started to become my forte and not only was I awakening more to the workings of the psyche, but I was connecting more to my aliveness deep within my body. Eros was calling me and thus started an intense journey into the realms of sacred sexuality exploring the tantric and shamanic arts. Over the next few years, I journeyed to various parts of Australia and overseas attending festivals, retreats, and training courses and felt truly at home in these spaces. Feeling completely alive in my innocent erotic expression and using the tools of these arts was healing and transformative and connecting me to god-universe-all-that-is. I knew that my calling was to be of service to that in some way.
In 2014 I began training with the Institute of Somatic Sexology and became a certified sexological bodyworker. For me, the training was the start of bridging the worlds of tantric-shamanic sexuality and mainstream practices. A year later I returned to university and began a degree in counselling. The intellectual juice was deeply satisfying and having worked with people at their edges already the theory and practice had somewhere to land. Everything I thought philosophy would give me as a young adult at university in the late ’90s, I found in psychotherapy. What a discovery!
Despite this new love, I felt a disjunct between these worlds that I loved, but in 2019 I found the answer in the post-grad Creative Arts Therapies program at Murdoch University. In my early years, I had trained as a classical singer and had been performing in a variety of musicals, theatre, and choirs since then. I also painted and drew as a form of relaxation, meditation, and emotional processing. I had always viewed my artistic work as something I did on the side, something that satisfied my expression. What I did not realise was that many of the expressive and embodied practices that I had experienced in retreats and trainings at the beginning of the decade were also held in the expressive and creative arts therapies world. Science and art could combine in a delicious dance together transcending disciplines, and I was ready to be on that edge. As all my paths converged, a deep congruence emerged with who I was and what I wanted to offer the world. Thus, Vanessa K Vance - Somatic and Creative Therapist was born.
Whether it is learning about improving communication, exploring sexual identity and expression, or healing trauma, I see my work with individuals and groups as primarily a sacred space holder, offering knowledge and processes to support folks to find their inner healer, sage, or shaman. I provide a shamanic bridge between worlds, a sanctuary to find safety in the body and mind and a liminal space where imagination and creativity can heal and birth new ways of being. In the words of my favourite art therapist and teacher Shaun McNiff (2004),
“...images are generated by the soul’s sensibilities; and when they express emotions, figures of the imagination, dreams, struggles, transformations, travels, and longings, they transmit palpable shamanic qualities. Every person’s artistic imagery can be an opening into the shamanic world if we endow our creations with this significance. The image becomes a doorway to the soul when we respond to it with imagination and interest, when we appreciate its expression and mystery, and when we respect what it gives to us.”
If you feel called to work with me I would love to hear from you.
McNiff, S. (2004), Art heals: How creativity cures the soul. Shamballa.