Monday, December 17, 2012

Art Therapy and Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD

Water gels to help children feel calm.

When children or adults have problems processing visual, auditory, tactile, olfactive, gustatory, vestibular, and proprioceptive information from the environment around them, they may have a sensory processing disorder. This is a neurological disorder causing difficulties with taking in, processing, and responding to sensory information. Many of the people that I work with, have some difficulty with processing sensory information. At some time most of us have experienced sensory overload; perhaps while shopping in malls, driving in traffic or attending a concert.

Sensory over responsively can cause a person to go into a fight or flight reaction. Certain sounds (a school bell, someone yelling), scents (perfume, hair shampoo), or sights (flashing lights, fluorescent lights), and or feels (tags on clothing, chalk) may cause a child to run away or scream in fright. One client I work with spends to first 5 minutes checking out everything in the art rooms to make sure that he knows what is new, what others are doing and make sure that he is not missing anything. I always play the same soothing music, burn lavender oil and talk and walk slowly when he is here to help calm down his autonomic nervous system and help regulate his sensory input to a more manageable level. After about 5 minutes, he can settle into a focused and productive session. 
Blue lights for calming.

Sensory under responsivity means that a person lacks awareness of sensory stimuli. These people may not be able to detect changes in their environment like the weather getting colder, a burner heating up, or a bright light. One client I work with who is tends to be rather sedentary enjoys bowling with me in the studio area as I create voices for all the stuffed creatures around us cheering us on and commenting on the game. I use sensory stimuli to help wake up his senses

Sensory seeking means that people in this range seek intense and extreme sensory input. They may not feel pain and they may make sounds with their mouths as a way to stimulate their auditory systems. They often play rough and have poor impulse control. I have a client who would throw and spatter paint for half an hour onto a 2 metre long sheet of paper hanging on the wall before he could settle into his body and relax. Now he happily plays in the sand trays as we process his experiences.
Sand tray

The sensory work that I do in my therapy room is geared to help normalize the senses. Children with dyspraxia have a low awareness of their body in space and lack an ability to feel or sense where their body begins and ends. I use many different body awareness techniques to help children relocate themselves in their body. Poor muscle control, poor balance are often also experienced by children and adults who have sensory issues.

So, how can art therapy help? First, by creating an atmosphere that is sensory friendly. I have low lights, coloured lights, soft music, aromatherapy, calm wall spaces and a slowed down environment that has limited stimulation so children and adults have less sensory input to deal with when they enter the therapy space. I use biofeedback, EMDR, breathing exercises, a children’s meditation program and other processes that help children and adults tolerate being in their body at a slowed down speed. I have water gels to help calm the senses. Sand tray work is wonderful for helping children learn to tolerate and enjoy different textures and feels. Playing in sand is one way children can practice sensory integration. Sensory integration is the neurological process that helps us interact with our environment through using our senses. The brain needs to be able to process multiple sensory inputs. Sensory integration is necessary for almost every activity that we perform because the combination of multiple sensory inputs is essential for us to comprehend our surroundings. 

Water gels.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Guardian Angels

Denise Litchfield is the author of the extraordinary blog, Grrl And dog. She creates wonderful guardian angels. I recently ordered one for my granddaughter Aurora to live alongside her in her bedroom. Who doesn’t need a guardian angel?

In traditional belief, guardian angels were thought to be assigned to protect and guide a particular person, or group of people. Belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity. I think we all can say that at one time or another we have felt the presence of a guardian angel in our lives. In a complex chaotic world, it is a comforting thought that someone in the spirit realm is watching over us. This dear little one that Denise designed and sewed has that job in Aurora’s room. Because she is soft and cuddly, this little angel is meant to be chewed on, but I don’t think that will reduce her guardian powers. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Art Therapy and God's Eyes

God’s Eyes come from the Huichol people of western Mexico. It is a spiritual object that brings protection to babies. The yarn weaving starts with the central eye woven by the father and then one eye is added for every year of the child’s life until the child reaches five. The four points represent the elemental processes of earth, fire, air and water.

In my Art therapy studio we made a similar weaving, but we embed the weaving with a different meaning. The children wove the central eye in a colour to represent themselves. Then they picked two or three other colours to represent people in their lives that protect and love them.
They enjoyed doing this activity and most of the children said that they wanted to hang them over their beds.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Art Therapy and Seasonal Crafts

Doing crafts is a wonderful de-stressing activity. It is well known that stress is one of the major factors that negatively affect our society today. Stress can be ramped up during holiday periods. To counter stressful thoughts slowing down and crafting with your hands helps to reverse the habit of getting into the stress mode. Here are some things that we are doing in the Art Therapy Studio to release some of that stress and anxiety:

Beaded Wreaths

Beaded Candy Canes

Making candy canes and wreaths from interlocking beads. This exercise is simple, fun and creates a great product.

Working with pre-made forms.
Collaged Stars

Painting pre-made stars, trees and other forms. This exercise lets the client focus on the fun part of decorating and painting a pre-made form.

Felt story.

Felt stories.
This is a felt story of the 12 Days of Christmas. Creating felt stories is a sensory rich art activity, which involves creativity, story and play.

Glue gun snow flake.

Making snowflakes. Snowflakes are always a fun, quick exercise that results in surprising and beautiful designs.

What Christmas crafts have you been enjoying?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Your Relationship With Anger

Over the years my relationship with anger has drastically changed. As a young child, I had to deny or hide any signs of anger. Only our father was allowed to display anger openly. By watching my mother, I learned how to express anger in a passive aggressive way, which was safer, if no one caught on. As a teenager, I would often dissociate from my anger and then it would erupt as rage. In my twenties, I started to own and act on it. I found ways to direct it and release it. I was still confused and frightened by anger, but at least I was not denying it. Throughout my 30s it was something that could still feel foreign, scary and uncomfortable. At that time, I believed that I needed to grow past it, and no longer experience angry feelings.
Finally in my 40s and 50s I have become comfortable with accepting that when I become angry I need to listen and respect this valuable part of me, which is trying to communicate something to me that shouldn’t be ignored. It could be that someone is violating my boundaries, being rude or aggressive to me or that I am witnessing something that is unjust. The problem is not in feeling anger rather it is learning how to work with it. Anger can be a powerful ally and guide to knowing when things are not right in our inner and outer world. How do we hold the tension of feeling overwhelming anger and not do anything with it that we will regret? The key is to hold it and not act on it. We have to build the capacity to be with it, stand beside it and know that while it is pulsing through our veins this is not the time to act on it. Action comes later with reflection. I am not talking about life threatening events when we need to defend ourselves to survive, the feelings there are often not anger alone. I am talking about times when anger sneaks up on us or grips us by the throat when we are interacting with others, reading something in the news or whatever situation you find it in.
I think that as we age and grow our relationship with all of our feelings shift and evolve. I experience joy, happiness, sadness and many other emotions and feelings differently now than I did when I was younger. It can be an interesting life review to isolate one feeling or emotion and take an overview.

Moshe Feldenkrais said, “It is our resilience, the shock that we can withstand and still recover our stability that determines our health”.

Art Therapy Exercise to Explore Our Relationship With Anger

Take some time to gather some art supplies, crayons, coloured pencils, paints and get comfortable. Take a few deep breaths to bring yourself into presence.
Now start with your childhood and review in your mind what your relationship was with anger. How did your mother and father handle it? What about your siblings? What were the early messages that you received?
Now take some time to write and or paint or draw your response.
Return to sitting and breathing. Take three or more deep breaths to bring yourself to presence. Now get a snapshot of how you lived with anger as a teenager. How did you express it or did you? What were your views about anger at that age? What situations triggered your feelings of anger?
Now take some time to write and or paint or draw your response.
Return to sitting and breathing. Take three or more deep breaths to bring yourself to presence. Fast forward to your 20s. What memory stands out here that emulates your relationship with anger? Was it something foreign, forbidden, destructive, always lurking or delightful?
Now take some time to write and or paint or draw your response.
Return to sitting and breathing. Take three or more deep breaths to bring yourself to presence.
Next turn to your 30s. Take some time to really note in what ways your relationship changed. Look to see if there was a deeper understanding or respect for what your anger was communicating. Did you have more skill in knowing how to live with anger? Could you anticipate the triggers? Did or do you feel more in control of this feeling?
Now take some time to write and or paint or draw your response.
Return to sitting and breathing. Take three or more deep breaths to bring yourself to presence.
Now review the relationship you have to anger in your 40s. Were there any events that really stand out for you that shifted your relationship and understanding of the role that anger plays or played in your life? What do you see?
Now take some time to write and or paint or draw your response.
Return to sitting and breathing. Take three or more deep breaths to bring yourself to presence.
Next move to your 50s. What defines or defined your relationship in these years? Has your anger mellowed, intensified, changed course or do you express it differently? Does it fuel your art, your sense of justice or ability to stand up for yourself or others?
Now take some time to write and or paint or draw your response.
Return to sitting and breathing. Take three or more deep breaths to bring yourself to presence.
Continue this exercise until you reach the age that you are now. After, if you wish, it is helpful to repeat this with looking at happiness, sadness, and any other feeling or emotion with which you have a deep long relationship.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Art Therapy and Habitual Patterns

From time to time events happen and we may overact. Someone makes a mean or hurtful remark and we experience emotional overwhelm or emotional flooding causing adrenaline and cortisol to flood our system. Often if we have experienced traumatic events in the past, our minds register the event as an attack, threat, or challenge and we go into high alert. It feels like someone has declared war on us. Our sympathetic nervous system puts our brain and body on high alert in a few fast minutes.

The therapy I do with children and adults is trying to figure out how we can slow down this experience so we have control over our habitual pattern of overreacting. To stop the right side of the brain’s limbic system from going into emergency mode and activating the amygdala or emotional brain, we have to practice and strengthen the parts of the brain and body that can bring conscious control to all this. All the somatic, cognitive, emotional and mindful techniques and exercises that I know and teach to my clients are geared to help stop or slow down this process, which cause flight or fight responses.

So, how do we reverse this from happening? There are four things you can do.
First, it helps the body and if the mind can remember and practice other ways of being. By waking up memories of happiness, joy and trust in others helps broaden your world and reminds you of other ways of being and responding in the world. Experiencing joy and remembering past joyful experiences helps regulate and reset the bodies autonomic nervous system. It gives the body a fuller range or more choices of responding so we are not constantly travelling over the same response pathways that are in our brains. Helping establish peaceful, happy or open ways of thinking, and being helps reverse the fight or flight as your “go to” behaviour state.

Second, by learning how to be present means that you can literally pull yourself out of emotional states and observe them but not “become” them. You learn to be present or awake and aware instead of being diminished or reduced to becoming part of an automatic response. You can stay larger than the situation that you find yourself in and avoid being highjacked by emotional responses.

Third, by learning to be reflective, mindful and curious about yourself and the world helps take you out of a frozen response where fear rules. By learning from your trauma, redefining yourself, gaining trust and curiosity in the world again helps you pause or reflect when someone is bothering you so you really can step back and reflect on the appropriate response. You can train your brain to stay curious and engaged in the event without becoming fearful and reactive.

Fourth, the way to change the body’s physical position from a frozen stance to a fluid stance is by being healthier. The healthier your body is through letting it move, eat right, and do exercise the smarter it becomes in knowing what movement or body position is appropriate to stay empowered and not overreact. 

Try this art therapy exercise to gently play with reframing the mind and body.

Gather some art supplies. Take some time to get comfortable and centered in your chair. Do a body scan so you feel present in your body. Take a minute to notice if your feet are tired, energized or relaxed. Take some time to relax your feet and let them make contact with the floor. Imagine your feet in the most comfortable and nurturing place. Where would they want to be? What does the environment look like? What are the smells, sounds and images? If it is outside in nature, what is the time of day? What is the temperature? Now shift your attention to the chair under your legs and buttocks and adjust yourself to get even more comfortable in your chair. Take a deep breath into your stomach. Bring awareness to your back. What are you noticing here? Is your back tense or feeling relaxed? Now move to your chest. Can you breathe freely? Is your chest open or closed? Now move your awareness to your hands and arms. Notice if there is any tension and gently release it. Take time to sense into your hands, stretching the fingers. If your hands could be anywhere in nature, where would they want to be? What would they be touching? Now, bring awareness to your neck, head. Release any tension in your jaw and neck area. Now gently turn inward, sensing into your inner throat, chest and then resting in the belly area.

As you stay Present and aware of yourself sitting in the chair, give yourself a gentle invitation to focus on an issue or fear. Then notice if your body has shifted or changed position as you sense into this fear or issue. Next, while staying present, notice if any thoughts or feelings arise around this memory or image. You are not getting pulled into this experience, you are staying present and you are observing your body and mind’s responses.

Now, on your sheet or paper draw or write the emotion that you are experiencing as you stay with this issue or fear and then write or draw what you would rather be feeling. Notice where in your body you feel this reframed emotion. Now listen to your thoughts and again write or draw your response. Notice where in your body these thoughts resonate and then write or draw what you would be rather thinking. Now notice where in your body you feel your reframed thoughts.
Now notice the stance your body took when you think about your issue. Take some time to physically change your bodies posture.
Bring this self -Focusing exercise to a close by making some closing mark or image on your paper.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Art Therapy and Magic Wands

Last week several of my younger clients made wands. Their wands had many purposes; some had powers to make everyone nice, some gave secret powers of strength and endless candy, and some wands changed bullies into snakes. Throughout history wands have been made from wood, sometimes stone, or metal. Their ceremonial use is well documented. They are often associated with magic, but are also used for many other purposes. In formal government ceremony, special officials may carry a wand of office or staff of office representing their power. Wands throughout history have been used for channeling energy, healing, spell casting and to represent power.

I explained to the children with whom I work, that we need to have a belief that we can be powerful agents of positive change and that belief can be carried inside us like one of the jewels that they used to emblazon their wands. We talked about how change begins inside us and then flows out into the world and touches others, just like when they stood in the therapy room and pretended to touch their friends with the wand. We talked about how people change, how magic happens and what is power. I never know where an idea for an art project will take my clients and I. But, sometimes it’s magic.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Leaning Into the Positive

Life always gives us choices. In most situations we have the choice to lean into the negative, see what isn’t working, or get stuck in the obstacles. Or we have the choice to lean into the positive or see what is working or feel grateful.

Learning to lean into the positive takes practice because we tend to naturally go into the other direction. So, how do we do this and make it stick?

Art Therapy Exercise For Leaning Into the Positive

We want to change a behavioral pattern. We have to change it on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. The next time you find yourself dwelling on a negative thought, physically lean to the right (whatever side of your body feels right) and say to yourself one positive thing about the situation (even if you don’t believe it or you have to invent it). Next, remember something that makes you feel grateful or happy. Remember to stay leaning towards the right while you have your positive thought and emotion. Now, if you are not already, remind yourself to be present and in the moment. It is as easy as that. We can lean in any direction that we want to with what life throws at us.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Art Therapy and Rebounding

This is a wall in my Art Therapy Studio that I use to work with clients to explore feelings.
We all meet failure at some time in our lives; accepting failure is often very difficult. More challenging is trying to rebound from failure. How do we learn from the experience and get the courage and strength to try again? First, we have to come to terms with the fact that we failed, process the emotions, and resolve the loss. While we are busy healing the loss, we need to somehow keep the passion alive for the project or idea. A part of us needs to stay engaged and confident that the first try did not work, but that does not mean that the book will not be published or the idea will not be accepted. We need to hold both; the ability to process and be with the part of us that is suffering due to the loss or rejection and then also be with and believe in the part of us that does not want to let go of the project or idea and knows that it can be realized. We have to become rebounders. Rebounders can hold onto themselves while making changes.

This can happen by:

1. Maintaining a clear sense of who you are when you interact with others. Knowing what you value and believe, and not defending a false or inaccurate self-picture.

2. Maintaining a sense of perspective about your anxieties and limitations so that they neither drive nor immobilize you.

3. Practicing the willingness to engage in self-dialogue that is necessary for your growth. This includes being with your fears and anxieties.

4. Acknowledging the parts of you that engage in projections and distortions.

5. Tolerating the pain involved in growing; mobilizing yourself toward the growth you value and aspire to; soothing your own hurts when necessary, supporting rather than berating yourself.

Rebounders stay close to their dream, even when their dream meets with rejection.

Rebounders also can regroup quickly. They can rethink, reframe, and revise their project to be accepted. They know that there are many ways to get to the end goal and they learn to tolerate chaos, discomfort and not knowing. By being fluid, flexible and open they learn how to navigate.

Rebounders also have a flexible timetable of when and how their project will be accepted. They know that waiting patiently is part of the game.  This builds resilience and confidence and helps draw them towards the success that they are seeking.

Art Therapy Exercise for Rebounding

First, take some time to gather your favourite art supplies. Then get comfortable, feeling grounded in your chair and noticing your feet and legs. Take a minute to notice your feet. Take some time to relax your feet and let them make contact with the floor. Press your heels into the floor, then the toes.  Gently press both sides of your feet into the floor. Now rock back and forth on your toes to your heels. Notice if you sense any colour in your feet. Now shift your attention to the chair under your legs and buttocks and adjust yourself to get even more comfortable in your chair. Take a deep breath into your stomach. How is your stomach? Do you sense any emotion there? Bring awareness to your back. What are you noticing there? Is your back tense or feeling relaxed?  Now move to your chest. Can you breath freely? Is your chest open or closed? Notice if your chest is constricted, expanded, or in some other state. Now move your awareness to your hands and arms. Notice if there is any tension and gently release it. Take time to sense into your hands, stretching the fingers. If your hands could be anywhere in nature, where would they want to be?  What would they be touching? Now, bring awareness to your neck, your head. Release any tension in your jaw and neck area. Now gently turn inward, sensing into your inner throat, your chest, and then resting in the belly area. As you stay present and aware of yourself sitting in the chair, give yourself a gentle invitation to notice where you sense the part of you that is experiencing strong emotions about the loss. Is there a part of you that responds? As you stay with this part, note what is of concern there. Then gently shift to spend some time listening to the part of you that is still engaged or excited about the project or idea. Take some time to hear from its point of view how it is feeling. If possible, make room to be with both parts of you, the grieving part and the passionate part. When you are ready, gently bring this self focusing session to an end. Now, on the paper show how both parts were revealed to you. You may represent them symbolically, through colour or image. Note the weight, shape and texture of these parts. Note where in your body you are sensing them as you represent them on paper. Are they still communicating to you? To end this exercise ask yourself what one thing you could do today to move forward?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How Do You Hold Your Body?

The way we stand, sit, and walk influences how people may see and judge us. We all know that by changing our posture, we can change our emotions and thoughts. Sitting in a curled up or regressed way helps promote feelings of being small, inadequate and being unimportant. Walking with our arms swinging, sitting in a spread out position or running with our arms out wide promotes feelings of power and confidence.

I learned about body language through studying NLP (neuro-linguistic programming). Our bodies have a wide repertoire of ways to communicate. By changing or modifying gestures, skin tones, micro-muscle movements we can convince others and ourselves that we are feeling happy or sad, powerful or weak. Our nonverbal communication often speaks louder than our verbal communication. When someone walks into a room that is what we all see and focus on first. When we first speak to someone we are watching eye movements, breathing patterns and we are studying their posture.

This is important to me as an Art Therapist. My clients come to me because they want change. Change can’t happen if our body keeps repeating the same body postures and micro-muscle movements that lock us into our patterns of depressive thinking, angry emotions or fear. If we change our postures, we can change our thinking and feeling. If one feels safe and confident, one has to hold themselves in a body posture that convinces them that they are in fact safe and confident. Looking and feeling powerful does help give you an inner belief that you are powerful. We can change our body to give others messages, but most importantly we can change our body to give ourselves new messages.

In a group of people we are attracted to others who have rhythms and body movements that we find comforting, stimulating or pleasant. We can do the same thing for ourselves. I love being in my body when I am running. I love watching strong runners cross the finish line with their arms spread wide. I love feeling the strong muscles and strength. It gives me the message that I am healthy and in shape. If there is something you want to change about yourself, mimicking the body movements of a person who acts in the way you want to, helps convince yourself that you can be like that person.

Amy Cuddy in this Ted Talk, brilliantly explains how your body language shapes who you are.   

Try this Art Therapy Exercise for changing Body Patterns.

First, take some time to calm your mind. Do some deep breathing. Now think of a pattern in your life you would like to change. It could be a fear, a way of responding or a thought you have about yourself. Take a few minutes to write or draw this. Now notice your body. How are you sitting? How are you holding yourself? Note what your body posture is when you are focusing on this thought or emotion that you would like to alter.
Now think of someone who you believe does not have this problem or issue. Take some time to stand and walk around the room with the belief that this issue or problem is no longer with you. How are you standing or walking? What is different? Are you looser, more fluid, standing taller? Now draw this image of yourself. Remind yourself to walk or stand in this position often so you can internalize it.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Are You Bored?

I work with some children who use this phrase often. After 15 minutes of being fully engaged in painting or working on a craft out come the words, “I’ m bored”. After 3 minutes into a book that 1minute earlier they were engaged with, “I’m bored”. This, of course is not boredom, it is conditioning. Conditioning by video games and shows that have bright lights and images that rapidly change every few seconds. For these children, what they really mean is they need constant stimulation. They have lost or may not have developed the ability to focus, slow down, and engage and struggle with something instead of turning away.
There are many problems with this, but the one that I am going to discuss is that in order to develop any talent, learn any craft or skill one must embrace, struggle with and work through “boredom” or one does not reach the other side where mastery may be found. How do we learn to not turn away from boredom? How do you keep engaged when everything in you is frustrated, tired, fed up and ready to quit? A few reasons to stay with it could be an overwhelming desire to learn or a strong desire to get better at something. There has to be a drive, desire or strength to push through the want of immediate gratification and dive deeply into the period of hard work. Boredom can mean that we have reached our limits and we now need to keep going even though we may not know where we are going. I know many talented artists that may never reach their potential because they turn away from boredom by partying, getting distracted, and talking about art instead of doing it. You have to believe that you and your struggle are worth it.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What is Self-Sabotage?

 Self-sabotage is when people engage in behaviour that either hurts them, or gets them into trouble. People use drugs, steal, starve themselves, find and stay in abusive relationships, cheat on their spouse, drive too fast, drink themselves to death, overeat, don't exercise, or push people away.
            As a child, everyone wants to be loved and accepted. Some children receive unconditional love from their parents and are told, "We love you. We want you. We will nurture you." Other children are told either verbally or nonverbal, "We don't want you. You are a bother, a burden.” Children who are not taught coping skills don't learn how to survive in a sometimes hostile and frightening world. Other children are brought up with an unrealistically excessive idea of their own power or to mistrust their power. They can feel totally powerless over situations that occur around them. Having either a sense of too much power or no power can cause children to misjudge situations and hurt themselves in the process.
            Internalization of invisible messages results in people not valuing their own existence. Self-sabotage is the result of an internalized self-destruction wish or an inability to take care of oneself in the world. Their parents and others have often shamed people who feel worthless. They are told they are not good enough. These people may continue to engage in self-sabotaging behaviours to maintain their shame. This validates their feeling that they actually are worthless. It contains the confused message that somehow this self-sabotaging behaviour is keeping one safe when in reality it is doing the opposite. It is a twisted attempt to be accepted, as you believe you are, not as you really are.
            Self-sabotaging people need to heal that part of them that was injured and learn to love, nurture, and validate themselves for who they are.  Healing from shame involves knowing that one is lovable when being authentic. How do you know if you self-sabotage? Here are some examples:

1.     Always bending over backwards to win over people.
2.     Expressing contrived concern for others.
3.     Always trying to smooth out rough edges in uncomfortable situations with others.
4.     Always looking for outside approval.
5.     Always worried if you have upset someone or believing that others may be mad at you and disregarding your own feelings.
6.     Always trying to explain or justify you to others.

If you feel yourself bending to one of these behaviours, you might be readying yourself to go into sabotage. Try to do the following instead of your habitual way of reacting.
1.     Bring yourself into presence. Take a deep breath, step back, and or yawn. Do anything that will wake you up to the present moment.
2.     Next ask yourself if you feel uncomfortable anywhere in your body with what you were about to say or do. Is there a part of you that is feeling afraid?
3.     Check to see if you want to explain, talk too much or do any other behaviour right now that is coming from a self-sabotaging place inside of you.
4.     Stay silent. Being consciously silent helps you stop self-sabotaging. Watch you want to react in your habitual way, but do not give in. Breathe through the desire to talk.
5.     Once you are alone, release the pressure that has built up in your body by not talking by walking fast, painting, running, writing down the experience.
Working in this way helps you identify clearly your habit of self-sabotage, slows down the habit of doing so and helps you regroup so you have the time and energy to act in a different way. What you are trying to do is reclaim your right to your feelings and act authentically. Taking some time to paint or draw situations in which you habitually self-sabotage help you get a clear picture of moments that you unconsciously out of habit. Painting the scene helps bring consciousness to this unconscious part of your life.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Number Five Reason Why You Should See An Art Therapist

 The fifth and final reason why you should see an Art Therapist is because they understand beauty. Many art therapists are practicing artists, appreciate art, view art, and are surrounded by art all day. I would hope most art therapists have a love of and appreciation of art and beauty.

Why is that important to you as a client? Because that means you will be surrounded by art when you go for sessions, you will get opportunities to do your own art and you will be in a beautiful atmosphere, which is healing and adds to your healing process. I have watched many clients engaged with their personal development work through art making discover their talent, which they have then gone on and developed. I have witnessed many clients become more aware and mindful of surrounding themselves with objects that provide aesthetic pleasure, collect works of art that inspire them, and begin attending to the beauty in their environment.

Appreciating art and beauty resources us and adds to our appreciation of nature. I hope you have enjoyed this mini series.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Reason Number Four Why You Would See An Art Therapist

The fourth reason why you should see an Art Therapist is because we understand risk. Art Therapists engage with this work because they understand the value of bringing the creative process into the therapy room. An Art Therapist has taken a risk by not going the traditional route of becoming a psychologist or clinical counselor. What we do is seen as alternative, perhaps even odd to some people and often is not covered by insurance companies. We took the risk to do what we believed in.
Why is this important to you as a client? It’s important because change is risky business. You have to leave the tried and true path of your habitual life if you want to change and at some point risk is part of the change process. Risk can be both exciting and terrifying.
I help guide the clients I work with through the risks that they take. It helps to have a guide who can interrupt the steps, offer possibilities and foresee some of the difficulties and challenges. But most important it is helpful to have someone who believes in and has risked change herself to pursue her dream even when others may have felt it was an unwise or irrational choice.

Next week I will end this series by telling you the fifth reason why you should see an Art Therapist.


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