Thursday, January 5, 2012

Is It Art Therapy If My Client Does Not Do Art?

When I first started practicing as an Art Therapist, I felt it was my job to get all my clients interested in creating art as part of their therapeutic process. I knew so many great exercises, processes and techniques, I thought that if I just learned the right way to introduce them, then my clients would engage with them. Turns out some people do and some people don’t. I have always had some clients who don’t paint, do clay, move or want to use the sandtray tables. Some clients want to talk. That doesn’t mean that they are not creative types. They dance, sing, paint and do drama and some don’t, but when they are here, they want to talk. They want to discuss their life with someone who understands their creative process and their way of being in the world. When they leave they might paint about our session or write a poem, but when they are here they sit and talk. The Art Therapist in me struggles with this sometimes. I feel that ‘just talking’ is not enough. We can do Focusing, EMDR. meditation, or create, why talk? Then I step back and remember that sharing our stories, talking and processing with words is another creative process. 

Mindfully reflecting, reframing, finding new meanings, reviewing patterns and understanding the words that we live by is a very creative act. The words that we say to ourselves and others everyday are part of our creative lived expression. Talking is a creative act. To be aware, mindful and attentive of the words we use is an art form.

Try this Art Therapy Exercise:

1.     List the words that you use daily that support you.
2.     List the words that you use daily that may harmful or not supportive.
3.     List the words that you use when talking to others daily that are positive and uplifting and list the ones that are limiting and harmful.
Words are acts of art. If you consider the conversations that you engage in the same light as creating a painting or poem, what would you want your words to convey? Hope, light, wellbeing? Words have power. Words help shape our reality and the way we perceive our reality. Having someone witness, reflect and deeply listen to our words help us become more aware of the words that we habitually and mindfully live by. That can be powerful therapy. That can also be Art Therapy.

"For me, words are a form of action, capable of influencing change. Their articulation represents a complete, lived experience."
- Ingrid Bengis


nacherluver said...

Learning, observing, self-growth, all part of the art process. Communication is an art form in and of itself. I think it's great that they talk when they feel the need to talk and create when they feel they should create. Going with the gut. Good for all.

Karen Wallace said...

Thanks for your comment. Hugs Karen

Carole Reid said...

Thank you Karen for sharing your work with us. I really enjoy reading about what you do and how you do it. I admire your ability to be sensitive to the client's needs.

I also read your article "Mindful Artscapes: The Crazy Artist" this morning. Great work! I printed it out so I can reread it again.

Have a good week. All the best to you in 2012. xo

Karen Wallace said...

Carole, Thank you so much. It is so wonderful to receive feedback. Hugs Karen


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