Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Some Wonders of Play

    •    Children think and talk about play frequently and this is the primary focus of their daily lives.
    •    Children need large blocks of uninterrupted time in order to experiment with materials, develop play scenarios.
    •    Children find peace, solace and healing in play by themselves and with others.
    •    In play children often function at a higher cognitive level.
    •    Children enjoy small, cozy, cubby-hole like hidden spaces to play in.
    •    Play can be a minefield; it is not always easy to enter play with other children and do so successfully. 
    •    Children enact their own cultural experiences, enact the culture of peers and reinvent/explore culture in their play.
    •    Children often invite playful adults into their play as co-authors and co-players.
    •    While adults primarily use talk to communicate, children are multi-vocal and use vocalizations, gestures, movement, singing and dance as they playfully communicate.
    •    Children understand the communications of each other during play while adults are often baffled.
    •    Children find play to be a spiritual and holy place and express this in their silences and reflections.
    •    Children express feelings and provide empathy to others in play.
    •    Play promotes wellness and healing as children disburse tensions in their play.
    •    Playing in unstructured ways is a place of joy for children.
    •    Children have their own distinctly unique and shifting play styles, patterns, vocal habits and ways of playing.
    •    There is no “right way” to play.
    •    Children are capable of solving their own problems during play.
    •    Play is a platform for identity-making as children try on roles and explore and experiment.
    •    When adults play alongside children the children reveal their meaning-making.
    •    Children communicate empathy, tenderness, intimacy, sharing and human connection in play.
    •    Children have agency and are empowered in play; one of the few places they have this freedom.
    •    Popular culture including movies, computer games, stories read is appropriated in play.
    •    Children enjoy the creative flexibility of moving props from one play centre to another.
    •    Children need to move in order to learn.
    •    Children do not always use play materials in expected ways and their thinking is often divergent and surprising.
    •    The quality of the adult-child relationship is fundamental to the learning process.
    •    Children would rather “play” with adults and not have adult learning agendas integrated into their spontaneous play.
    •    Playful adults inspire playful children.
(As revealed by the children at Learning Tree Preschool, 2008-09)
Robin Adeney passed this along to me. I think it is a good reminder of why play is important for children and adults. Have a playful day!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Reflecting on Suicidal Thoughts

Clients sandtray image of feelings of hopelessness

Last week a client, who was feeling suicidal asked, “why bother living or trying to evolve?”
             Reflecting on that question for myself I wondered, ‘What if this is it and we have no way of ‘not being’ in some form alive?’ What happens if we don’t evolve and we stay with the same emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual awareness that we have now? I would find it difficult to imagine living out eternity with the same awareness that I currently possess. It would seem like a prison to me. I would hope that I could become more peaceful, enlightened, joyful, and wise. If we were all hostages bound by fate and time, I would want to create a life for myself full of freedom, joy, peace, love and kindness.
            I have figured out some of the things I think I am here learning. I am learning about letting go, acceptance, non-striving, gratitude, and trust. I am my primary art project.  I am always adjusting, transforming refining, revising and recreating myself. I strive to live more in Presence because it helps me be aware, and whole. I strive to find inner peace, and achieve the growth I want in my lifetime. I try to find better ways to nurture, teach and inspire the self with which I am entrusted. That is my answer to this question. How might you respond to the question? 
Check out my new post at Create Mixed Media on Why you would see an Art Therapist

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Finding Your Teachers

How do we know when we are in the right place, at the right time with the right teacher?
Eugene Gendlin tells the story of how he felt better, just by walking into his therapist’s office. He somehow knew that this was the place. When people walk into my Art Therapy Studio I often know right away by how they look, the comments they make, and how their body relaxes or not, if they are in the right place to do the healing work that they are searching for. Often they comment on how much they like the colours, the décor or comment that it feels quiet and peaceful. They are picking up on my energy and the energy of the space. How do you know when you find your teacher?

I want to tell you a story of how I found my next teacher. I recently attended the International Focusing Conference in California facilitating a workshop and attending other practitioners’ workshops. I was not looking to sign up for any courses or to work with anyone, in fact the flight down confirmed for me that I dislike flying, the hassle of leaving my busy schedule, and disrupting my life is not worth it. And then I walked into Russell Dellman’s workshop.  I had sat with him over lunch during the first day of the conference, noticing nothing special, but there was an interesting lightness to his being and a wonderful, very wonderful smile. I ran into him several times after that and we smiled. When I sat in on his workshop, after maybe two minutes I just knew, this is my next teacher. He had what I needed.

Russell teaches a course called Embodied Life, which is a combination of Focusing, Zen Meditation and Feldenkrais. But that wasn’t it exactly, it was Russell himself. I knew that his energy could help me grow. It was odd, I sat there thinking I don’t want to fly down to California twice a year to do his Mentorship Program because of the cost and energy that it will take but, damn it, I don’t have a choice because I need this. I need to hear his words, I need to learn from him so, I will. Now I have a new spiritual guide or something like that. I feel blessed, excited and a little exhausted already knowing that I will have to fly into the busy airport in Sans Francisco, rearrange my busy schedule etc. But, I found my teacher. What about you? How do find your teachers?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Three Different Opportunities to Learn Focusing and Expressive Art Therapy


This August 20, 21 2011 in Madison Wisconsin:

Learning Focusing to Make Inner Peace (Finding Inner Peace through Focusing)

Would you like to learn how to use Art Therapy and Focusing to:
· Invigorate your creativity?
· Be calm and compassionate with yourself?                                                                                                               
· Access more of your imagination and creative potential?

Focusing and creating art helps you learn how to be Present and listen to yourself in order to move ahead in your life in an empowered and safe way. It can help you feel more integrated and whole.  Focused Art making is a gentle and powerful way to develop a deep intrapersonal healing relationship with the self.

In this workshop you will work with:
• Learning how to guide yourself to have peaceful inner dialogue
•Finding forward movement and feeling empowered to create
•Taking responsibility for your own healing
•Focusing in on your emotional behaviour and language

Humans are creative beings. Sometimes the creative flow gets blocked and Focused Art making helps a person learn how to be Present and listen to themselves in order to move back into the creative flow. Focused Art making is a gentle and powerful way to work with your personal stories and to move away from feeling constrained or trapped by them.
Awareness of sensations in the body can be blocked through habits of dissociation and repression. This blocks the creative abilities and life force. Transformation of energy involves the acknowledgment and information of the inner movement of sensation. This energy and awareness is essential to reconnect what has been fragmented by life stress, injury or trauma. You will work with releasing emotional, physical, and intellectual beliefs and stories through Focused Art making.

Focusing is "direct access to bodily knowing." It is a practice that takes a person towards a state of conscious perception that goes far beyond knowing something on a mere conceptual level. As with Somatic Experiencing, Focusing refers to this bodily knowing as a felt sense. As the Focusing Institute's website explains, "You can sense your living body directly under your thoughts and memories and under your familiar feelings." Focusing happens at a deeper level than your feelings. Under them you can discover a physically sensed murky zone, which is concretely there. This is a source from which new steps emerge. This murky zone "opens" as you learn to stay with it longer. Being with it increases the ability to sense feelings behind words or images, even when those are not yet formed. Focusing was developed by the philosopher Eugene Gendlin in the late 1960s and early 1970s, while he was working with the famed psychologist Carl Rogers. I combine this process with creative process art making to teach you a way to be freer and more open in your relationship with yourself and your world.

In this workshop you will:
•Learn the skills of Level Two Focusing
•Learn the skills of how to do Focused Art making
•Learn the skills of how to do deep inner listening and expressing
•Learn Creativity and Body/Mind Tools

You need Level One Focusing to take this workshop. You will learn the skills of, and receive credit for, Level Two Focusing by taking this workshop. You can continue to take Level 3 to 4 with Karen or another Focusing Teacher after this workshop. We are offering morning meditation walks, afternoon group running, and evening open studio time. During the Saturday afternoon wine and cheese get together Karen is offering group tarot readings.

In Winnipeg in September 24, 25 2011 and in Regina Saskatchewan in October 8, 9 2011

Level One Focusing and Expressive Art Therapy

Karen Wallace, Art Therapist and Focusing Teacher studied Interrelationship Focusing with Ann Cornell, PhD and Wholebody Focusing with Glenn Fleish PhD, MFT and has combined this with her knowledge of Somatic Experiencing and Expressive Therapy. In this training she will teach the core skills of Focusing through an introduction to the Focusing process and an introduction to the art therapy process.
In LEVEL ONE FOCUSING TRAINING participants begin learning how to do Focusing for themselves, and how to facilitate a Focusing process with clients.
Focusing was developed by the philosopher Eugene Gendlin while working with Carl Rogers in the late 1960’s. Focusing is “direct access to bodily knowing.” It is a practice that takes a person towards a state of conscious perception that goes far beyond knowing something on a mere conceptual level. As with Somatic Experiencing, Focusing refers to this bodily knowing as a felt sense. This felt sense “opens” as one learns to stay with it for longer periods of time. It is a subtle process, hard to define in words. Being present with it increases one’s ability to sense feelings behind words or images, even when those are not yet formed. Eventually, one learns how to let a deeper bodily felt sense come in relation to any problem or situation.
Learning Objectives
Participants will gain understanding of:
a) the difference between a bodily felt sense and an emotion or a physical sensation
b) the attitude of Presence and its importance for emotional healing
c) the stages of Focusing, from acknowledgment to gentle completion,
to the importance of empathic reflection in supporting the Focusing process.
d) how Focusing allows the organism’s own life direction to emerge.
e) how Art Therapy can be used to express felt sense.
 f) how art can be used as metaphor and meaning making.
g) how Focusing can be used with EMDR and over the phone (time permitting).

To register for Regina: Karen’s Email:      
Web site:
To register for Winnipeg: T/ 204-885-4155,


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