Masha Andreeva (she/her) HonBA, DTATI(cand.), RP(qualifying)
I am a student of nature. My philosophy is simple: life is sacred. All life on earth is interconnected. This living network, which we are part of, is our guide, teacher and healer. We have consciousness and self-awareness - our expandable multi-tools. I studied psychology, shamanism, yoga and meditation to get to know these tools and I continue learning how to use them. Looking for a way to be of service, I found Art Therapy is a way to engage these multitools creatively, to help us learn, grow and change.
I see Art Therapy as a culmination of my search for a way to combine psychotherapy and creativity into a form of practice that facilitates self-inquiry, self-reflection, letting go and being in the flow.
Below you can read about how yoga, mindfulness, shamanism, music and psychology make up my therapeutic toolbox.
Yoga and meditation have fuelled my journey since 1997. In 2006 I received my Yoga Teacher Certification at The Sivananda Ashram in ValMorin, QC. I have been actively teaching yoga till 2009, and then switched to integrating yoga into the retreats I led.
The practice of yoga goes far beyond physical stretching. Yoga means "union", of body and mind, of heart and mind, or individual self with higher self, and the yogic teachings and practices are all geared towards establishing balance, harmony and ultimately, union within one's whole self. The yogic teachings inform my approach to psychotherapy in that I am keenly aware of the clients natural progression towards balance and harmony.
I also believe that my job as a psychotherapist(qualifying) is primarily to provide a safe and supportive environment and to support the clients in removing the obstacles (e.g. fears, stagnant thought patterns, unprocessed traumas); the way to harmony and self-realization follows naturally, as it is innate in each of us.
The foundation of my meditation practice lays in Tibetan Buddhism. Between 2000 and 2005 I co-founded a buddhist meditation center in Toronto, and attended numerous meditation courses and retreats in North America and Europe. Later on, Vipassana-style meditation retreats founded by S.N. Goenka propelled my practice further.
I have been interested in secular use of meditation in the context of psychotherapy since my time in university, and my Honours thesis looked at personality traits and behaviour differences between meditators and non-meditators. Jon Kabat-Zinns books on mindfulness are with me wherever I go, and I implement MBSR in my practice and sessions.
Mindfulness offers grounding in the moment, connecting to senses and awareness. It is a great tool to implement in psychotherapy sessions, allowing both the therapist and the client to be more present. You can read my article about the benefits of mindfulness in psychotherapy here.
As a student of nature, I honour plant teachers and plant medicines. In Russia I studied medicinal use of plants and trees as well as ancient cultures, traditions and ceremonies from around the globe. There is a lot we can learn from trees and plants.
From 2009 to 2012 I lived in Peru and apprenticed with Don Alberto Torres Davila, a well-respected and known curandero (healer) in the Rio Ucayali region and served as an ayahuascquera. I built a small retreat center, ElCorazon, where I led small 9-day retreats, combining mindfulness, yoga, music, silence and ayahuasca ceremonies. I returned to Canada in 2013 to start a family, but my house in the Amazon continues to serve those who visit Don Alberto, and I return there for short visits from time to time. I continue working as an ayahuasquera, co-facilitating private and exclusive healing retreats both in the Amazon and the Andes of Peru with my partner in medicine, Mariya Garnet.
The time I spent in the jungle, singing to the plants and facilitating ayahuasca ceremonies by Don Albertos side taught me the importance of our connection to nature and the value of holding space, of therapeutic presence. This non-judgemental empathic presence is the key element in my practice, and time and again I see that clients seek this in order to connect to their vulnerability, explore the darker corners of the soul and emerge lighter, more connected and more whole.
Music has great power over our psyche and consciousness. When we hear the music that is in tune with our heart, our heart opens to it and starts to sing it’s own song.
My time in Peru has fueled my practice of using music and voice for holding a therapeutic space.
I have been studying music as medicine with Gary Diggins since 2009. Gary has taught me that sounding different instruments and different scales and melodies can be attuned to the emotions and states that the clients are experiencing and can facilitate connecting to those emotions and releasing them. Prior to pandemic I have been hosting monthly gatherings called Shamainc Sound Circles where within safe and supportive environment participants co-created soundscapes for each other to journey deep within. Since 2019 I have been co-facilitating sound baths with Marya Garnet. Our instrument collection and repertoir continues to grow and we continue offering group and private sound baths.
Psychology and psychotherapy
Since 2018 I have been studying Art Therapy. This form of psychotherapy implements creative expression, feels at home in the nature. There is also plenty of space for mindfulness and playfulness.
In 2006 I received my HonBA in Psychology from York University. The course that defined the direction of my professional growth was "Creativity", led by Igor Kusyzyn. The final assignment for that course was "Change the World". We were invited to come up with a project that would positively affect lives of 7 people or more. That is when I decided to organize a retreat with a program and schedule designed to facilitate self-inquiry, mindfulness and personal growth. The questionnaires and feedback forms pre-and post-retreat revealed that there indeed has been a positive change in the people that attended the retreat. I too have changed.
That is my credo to this day: changing the world through the people, through learning and teaching connection to the moment, to the body, to the mind, to the nature and, ultimately, to the heart.
I continue organizing retreats in the nature, implementing the elements of mindfulness, yoga and creative expression.
My practice of individual psychotherapy is also rooted in the connection to the moment, to the body, to the mind, to the nature and, ultimately, to the heart.
I am registered with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario in the RP*(Qualifying) status. I also maintain active membership with OATA* and CATA*.