My last post on getting still to listen in order to STOPP the madness for more peace and joy was long. It was meant to serve as a loving guide and it was also largely for my own ears! As much as I wanted to give you a succinct message packaged in a few steps I had been moving through a chunk of my own debris which required time for incubation, so I would write a little and need a break; write a bit more and need a longer break. Then, finally I was able to come back and wrap it up. It felt stifled as if there was a foot on the break followed by the gas, break, gas, break, etc. That can make it difficult for you as the reader but I assure you it was necessary for me, the writer, in order to get where I was going.
Getting in touch with your own story is a huge part of the healing process! It is also a major component of the process in Art Therapy. Using images, symbols, metaphors, shapes, line, color, and form my clients are able to uncover forgotten parts of their story and themselves to begin weaving them into a coherent story that allows for the necessary awareness and is a primary catalyst for behavioral change. There are an endless number of ways to do this with a countless number of materials, projects, etc. The main goal is to start exploring your story in order to own it!
3. Self-portrait with shapes– start with paper and any drawing or painting materials you’d like to create 3 shapes…one to represent how you see yourself, another for how you think others see you, and a third for how you want to be seen. There is no right or wrong way to do this! Just follow your instincts here and think about line, color, shapes, patterns, and form. You can be as abstract or representational as you’d like.
Once you have found a stopping point for your art or writing, it is time to reflect. Grab a piece of paper and a pen if you do not already have them and journal about your process: what did you learn? You can answer the following to help you get started:
1. Describe your process of writing or creating…was it easy or difficult?
2. Did you find yourself stuck in any place?
3. What would you title your story?
4. Now try to list as many adjectives as possible to describe this piece.
5. Does it feel complete? Do you like it? If not, what does it need to feel finished or satisfactory?
6. Lastly, if your image or story could speak what would it say?
Creating and reflecting are one thing. There is much opportunity for self-discovery and personal insight but the most therapeutic part of Art Therapy is the relationship between the therapist and client and/or group members in a group setting. Thus, sharing your story is an invaluable step in helping you own where you have been, where you are currently, and where you are headed. Studies show that those who disclose fear, stress, pain, etc. suffer fewer illnesses and negative psychological effects following natural disaster, personal trauma, etc. Sharing what happens directly following such overwhelming events can prevent future damage. However, it is important to choose a trusted partner. Carefully consider who you would feel most comfortable confiding in, but know the simple act of sharing dispels fear and builds inner strength. Think about individuals who have shown support of your previous creative endeavors. The last person you want to select is someone who may have previously judged or criticized your attempts at personal expression or vulnerability. Choosing someone with who you feel safe will aid in strengthening your courage muscle and hopefully provide a positive experience with which you can draw from in the future.
So now that you have the 3 main steps to get started: create, reflect, share…its time to play! Grab the materials you will need to get started and find a private space to begin your story. I’d love to hear about your creative process and journey in reaching out to a witness! Where does it flow? Do you get stuck anywhere? Leave me a comment below to let me know how it goes!