We understand that during your fertility journey, information, support, and a little bit of TLC can go a long way to help you manage stress and uncertainty. While science has made phenomenal strides in reproductive technologies, declining mental health is often considered to be a natural and normal side effect of treatment. However, research suggests that skills training, psychoeducation, and building awareness can help to lighten the load and prevent some of these negative effects.
So, we decided to take this approach, and place wellbeing at the center of everything we do at The ART Space. Together we tap into and explore positive health assets that can promote your health, build wellbeing, and protect against physical and mental illnesses.
However, fertility and infertility can’t be tackled alone. Everyone is hardwired for connection and it takes courage to reach out for help. With this in mind, we created a unique space to help those who are on the fertility journey to connect and share their struggles.
The ART Space is both a community and a movement. We know that compassion, connection, education, and innovation are at the heart of change. We aim to create a breakthrough in our culture and thinking; to start conversations, join hands, and link hearts. So that anyone going through fertility struggles, no matter where they are in the world, can reach out for support without judgment or shame.
No single fertility journey is the same. Your beliefs, assumptions, hopes, and dreams shape how you interpret and come to terms with a diagnosis of infertility. Feelings of gratitude for medical interventions can sit alongside feelings of disbelief that options are limited and invasive. Your sense of being whole, healthy, vital, and in control of your life’s direction may feel like it’s slipping through your fingers and your wellbeing tank may be running on empty.
Happiness is often put on the back burner; plans are put on hold, and life decisions are centered around family planning. Life is lived in limbo, neither moving forward or where you wish to be.
However, every moment and experience of your life presents opportunities to make deposits into your wellbeing tank. In fact, science suggests that small, daily, and intentional behaviors are the key to helping you to live well.
Wellbeing is our ability to feel good and function effectively.
Under the fuel of wellbeing, the inevitable struggles, setbacks, and challenges of life are tackled and navigated. Wellbeing helps us feel capable of dusting ourselves off and picking ourselves up to try again. It’s the superpower that supports resilience, helps us manage adversity, and find meaning and purpose in the lives we’re living. Wellbeing is, therefore, the rich soil that enables us, as human beings, to flourish.
Over the last 15 years, research has identified that wellbeing serves multiple purposes and functions.
Our name takes inspiration from the extensive use of acronyms in the field of infertility. We appreciate that it’s sometimes challenging to walk into a building that has IVF in its title, so for those of you in the know, ART, alongside OI, IUI, AI, ICSI, PGD, PGS, and ET is our common and shared language.
However, The ART Space is so much more than an acronym. We are a home for you to creatively explore ways to boost your levels of wellbeing. A place for you to laugh, cry, talk, share, and be heard. We invest in your wellbeing by helping you to set goals, identify strengths, build competence, and develop skills in practices that help you to navigate the fertility journey. We understand that your wellbeing and mental health is just as important as the treatment itself.
From the time I was a teenager, I knew that I wanted to help people. In hindsight, it was a very naive way of thinking but it’s a feeling that’s been with me for as long as I can remember.
I was creative and tried my hand at art and, for about 10 years, found a creative home in music. While music was my love, it was also something that left me feeling deeply vulnerable and constantly questioning whether I was good enough. Alongside music, I was passionate about psychology. I was fascinated about how the mind worked, and how people see and experience the world differently.
My journey into psychology was very rocky. Full of fear, self-doubt, and uncertainty about my capabilities, the first three years of study and university life were challenging. I turned away from music to concentrate on what I thought I was born to do. Statistics did not come easily and finding ways to think and apply knowledge was something that I quickly discovered I’d never been taught to do. I didn’t progress to my honors year and that was the first time in my life that I faced failure head-on.
Social work was plan B and I felt like a failure. For years I grappled with feelings of worthlessness, insecurity about not achieving my goal, and imposter syndrome. Despite this, I leaned into the only thing that I knew how to do, put my head down, work hard, and get on with it. Looking back on the last 20 years, I recognize that I was far from thriving. I was struggling and while my work gave me enormous meaning, it was not energizing or nourishing. I needed to make a change.
“If you ask people to be vulnerable in your room, then you have to be vulnerable yourself.”
And I made that change through the discovery of Positive Psychology. Studying the science of humans flourishing has been one of the best decisions of my life. Returning to study was not easy and again the imposter within me made its presence strongly felt. I graduated from Melbourne University with a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology in 2015 and, despite the fact that I’d put on an academic gown and hat three times before (yes, three!), this was one of my proudest life achievements. Let me be clear, this wasn’t about the piece of paper I received, but because I’d finally found a way to be authentic, to show myself to those around me, and to face and befriend failure.
Positive psychology, both clinically and personally, has transformed how I choose to be in the world. It’s provided a new language; it’s shaped new ways of thinking, and it’s created a platform to try and fail with grace and dignity. Getting it wrong no longer feels frightening. It’s a place of fertile soil that allows me to grow, change, and refine my efforts. What I’ve come to discover is that living my best possible life is about owning my story, telling my truth, and showing up each day in the service of others. This is me at my best, and it’s through the courage of my clients that I get to be the best version of myself. I’m filled with gratitude for the very privileged work I get to do each day.
My pathway has not been straightforward. At times, it has been a downright struggle. But I hope by sharing this with you that you can see that we’re all human, perfectly flawed, and that vulnerability comes in spades. It’s my hope that The ART Space is somewhere you can discover and explore who you are, and who you are yet to become. You are in good company here.
Suellen Peak brings 19 years of clinical experience working in the health industry. She has specialized in working with individuals and couples at various stages of their fertility journey for the past decade. She’s a Master’s qualified Positive Psychology practitioner, an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, and a registered Social Worker.
Suellen harnesses her love of learning through participation in ongoing professional development. She has a Graduate Diploma in International and Community development, training in health promotion and narrative coaching, and is skilled at applying a range of therapeutic interventions to harness her love of learning. The ART Space is her greatest moment of being daring with her life and harnessing the courage to stand in the arena.
The ART Space is an independent coaching and counseling community that recognizes the challenges individuals and couples face during fertility and infertility treatment.
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