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My art therapy journey has been a solo experience up until now, meaning without any outside influences or company. It has been a very personal endeavour and one that at first was just for me. Over recent years though, I began to share some of my work through group exhibitions which has been enlightening and revealing. It was through these exhibitions that I learned about the power of art as a form of self-expression; a way to empower a person with a visual voice, when words are had to find.
Just recently, I was fortunately asked, if I would like to join an art therapy group. The small group is especially for those who are carers for another in their lives. The sessions are designed to offer individuals a way to express themselves through art in a safe, secure and supportive environment. It also gives participants an opportunity to meet new people whom they learn to share thoughts, emotions and life experiences within an imaginative and creative environment.
NB: For the purposes of this weblog series “Art Therapy Group”, I will not be mentioning any names or personal details of participants or even the name of the organisation that runs the sessions. Individuals have the right to privacy, so it will only be about my own experience – and broad statements about each particular session. I hope you will understand. During my first session experience, I realized that I must have been ready for this type of art for therapy, as I found it actually fun. This was my personal experience but I am sure for some of the other participants, it was emotionally challenging and confronting.
In our group there are five participants, one art therapist and one co-facilitator. At this very first session it was really about getting to know each other, gaining a sense of being comfortable in sharing basic facts amongst the group, in this new space. One of the exercises involved using a set of crayons and a sheet of butcher paper. Each participant had to articulate a story about the first session. Our time frame was just 10 mins – so we had no time to waste, it was straight into creating! It was very interesting how each individual’s drawing was so different; and how each participants accompanying story – fascinating and revealing. I was just amazed how the act of making art could unleash such strong emotions, thoughts and feelings.
For myself, I did a crayon sketch on butcher paper about our group. The black darken outlines represents the seven of us within the art therapy group. The red shaping in the body of each represents our hearts. The different coloured lining represents our human makeup. What I said at the time, when explaining about my art work story was that “we are at the beginning of this 7 week journey in this art therapy group, we are all human, all the same, we know little about each other at this point, but we are united together as a group to venture forward to learn more, more about ourselves and about each other”.
Once we had all explained what our art work was about, we had to cut or tear it up and use the pieces in a group weave. This was confronting for me and some others because it meant we had to virtually destroy what we had just created. It was an interesting group process and once completed, we all stood back to have a look at our new group master piece.
This whole process for me, was about the act of individually creating; individually given up that creation; and then recreating as a group. A little like what happens in a family, giving up individual efforts for the good of the family as a whole. Another thought that I had, was that we can some times in our lives suffer great losses and in order to continue on, we need to look at being able to recreate ourselves over again, for ourselves and for others. Art for therapy gives us a way to process thinking…I could see this in action within our art therapy group on this day…
Whilst you are here – please check out my home page! My Art Therapy Journey – A window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytelling…by Karen Robinson