Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Element of Surprise

Sometimes we need to shake things up, jolt ourselves out of taking ourselves too seriously. Whether it is in a therapy session, a normal routine day or on a date we all know that rush of pleasure from an unexpected enjoyable event. It is exciting and refreshing when we can reframe our mental process and experience a pleasurable surprise to our system. It is wonderful when the process of creating a work of art can generate that level of surprise.
Last week I ended some of my clients therapy sessions with having them paint blind folded. They all enjoyed it, but one said that it woke up a playful inner attitude that she had not felt in a long time. I think it can be a good way to encourage spontaneous action, a release of tension, a fear of trying something new and it is a great way to help move clients into playfulness. Give it a try! 

 Thanks to  Lynn for introducing this man to me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Art of Saying No

How often do you reply yes, when no is what you want to say? Does your
affirmative response spring from a sense of guilt about saying no?
Saying no in an assertive, non-aggressive, manner is difficult.  When
someone asks for something why not try saying, Let me think about that
for a bit and I will get back to you. This reply gives you time to
reflect on the request thoughtfully and carefully, before committing to
it. Ask yourself, is this a reasonable request? Check your body. Are you
breathing shallowly? Are you perspiring? Do you feel trapped, pushed
into a corner? Visualize yourself saying no. Practice saying no aloud.
Try to be proactive and practise this before you talk to someone you
know who may try to pressure you into saying yes. Forget long-winded
excuses. Simple, direct explanation will do. You have a right to choose
what you will and won't do. Are you doing what you honestly want to do
or what you feel others want you to do?

Art Therapy Exercise for Saying No

Have some paints or coloured pens and paper ready. Take some time to
breathe and feel settled in your chair. Do a quick body scan noticing
your feet, legs, back, stomach and chest. Write "no" in the middle
of your paper. Take a few moments to go inward and see what your
immediate body response is to the word. Do a quick word association and
write out from the "no" in the middle of the page all the words,
feelings and reactions that come to you. Finish the exercise by writing
or drawing all the things that you can think of that you would like to
say "no" to in your life. Now, on the other side of the paper write
or draw all the things that you would like to say "yes" to in your

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

An Art Therapy Exercise for Noticing

Open Sky Exercise
 Sometimes a shift, a change, a move, a new beginning can feel overwhelmingly huge and other times it can feel tiny. There is a Zen story about a student who thought that change would feel like falling off a cliff, but when he did it, it was more like stepping down from a curb.

That is how life feels right, now. That change, real change, is like stepping off a curb. It is not a huge leap, rather it is a silent everyday commitment to show up and do what I know I need to do to change. I want to be present, aware and awake in my life and it will not take a huge change, but a small significant shift. It will require a constant checking in, a commitment to myself. It will mean falling off the curb of being on autopilot, to stop living in my habitual historical self and to pause before falling into reaction. All I am trying to do is to notice, stay aware and witness when this happens. I want to witness myself being in life. That would be a shift worth doing.

Art Therapy Exercise for Noticing: Open Sky Exercise

Begin with some deep breathing or a centering exercise to feel settled, present and centered. You could use the image of looking at an open bright blue sky. Now use some oil pastels and white paper and let your hand guide you in expressing the witnessing or noticing yourself sitting here in the middle of that vast blue sky.

Now think of thoughts or feelings that emerge like clouds floating by. When this happens, express it on the paper, as you stay conscious of being Present watching the wide open sky and at the same time noticing the story or feeling of the cloud.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Humor Therapy

I have a few clients who even in the face of tough, traumatic life situations always enjoy a good laugh. Humor is a way to wake up, and take a breather from being self identified. Partly this is because on the physical efforts that laughter has on the body. We receive an increase of oxygen, short-term charges in hormones and neurotransmitters and an increased heart rate with a good laugh. Many people I work with love therapy jokes.

Three of my favorite performers doing therapy humor are: Stop It by Bob Newhart, Humor Therapy (Part 1) by Ellen DeGeneres, Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura


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