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My art therapy journey 2015 – has once again enabled me to participant in another art therapy group. This group is larger than our previous 2014 group and is especially for those who are carers for another in their lives. It is facilitated by a very experienced Art Therapist and a co-facilitator. They assist participants to express themselves through art in a safe, secure and supportive environment. It also gives participants, an opportunity to meet new people with whom they learn to share thoughts, emotions and life experiences with, in an imaginative and creative way. The art work produced during an art therapy session, is not and will not be, works of art, as little time and energy is invested in the creative process. But what is important to understand and appreciate, is that it is, about the process of self exploration through art therapy.
GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER
Getting the participants to know each other – was the group’s Art Therapist’s primary goal at this first session. It involved participating in a number of simple exercises which helped each of us, to get to know one another, a little better. For some, we already knew of each other through our first art therapy group in 2014 and for others, it involved getting to know the whole group for the first time. Following our first session will be another 5 sessions, where we will have plenty of opportunity to broaden our knowledge of each other and of ourselves even further.
A TREE OF TREASURED MEMORIES
One of our art therapy exercises involved a visualisation process. We were asked to close our eyes and visualise a place of beauty, a place we feel safe in, a place we would enjoy being within. I found it easy to reach my ‘mind place’ as I like to call it, being the beach with stretches of golden sand, a deep blue sea with crashing waves creeping up onto the shoreline, a pretty, light blue sky that seem to go on forever, a warm sun filling my soul with a sense of joy and a soft sea breeze caressing my skin. On reaching this ‘mind place’ we were then asked to find a ‘magic seed’. I found myself picking up a seed pod near a rock pool and holding in my hand as I examined its texture, shape and colour. We were then asked to plant it and visualise what it had grown into. After a few moments of visualisation, we were then asked to open our eyes and draw/paint/crayon an art work that showed what our ‘magic seed’ had grown into.
Once we had completed our art work about what our ‘magic seed’ had grown into, we each took turns to explain it to the group; and only as much as we were comfortable in revealing. It was very interesting and amazing how serious the participants had involved themselves in this visualisation process.
For me, my seed grew into ‘A Tree of Treasured Memories’:-
“It was an imaginary tree with no leaves! It held only pear, shaped droplets hanging from its branches, that once reached for and plucked, would take me to a treasured memory I held in my mind and in my heart. I didn’t realise at that very moment of producing my ‘tree of treasured memories’ art work, that I would become very emotional. I found myself working hard at trying to push back the tears, so as no one could see them. As we went around the table, with each person telling their story and showing their art work, I found myself becoming more and more tearful. I held tight to my tears welling up in my eyes, so they wouldn’t fall. It was then that I realized, that my ‘tree of treasured memories’ was about, having a wish to be able to revisit memories of my son Ben, who had been killed in a single vehicle car crash in 2009. Over the recent years, I had come to understand, how time spent with loved ones was a treasure. I tragically had learned this through my loss and all that was left of my son now – were treasured memories. I did manage to explain some of my tree of treasured memories art work, but it was difficult and I stopped short in order to hold back the pain in my heart, that was slowly seeping forward to the present moment. No doubt there were others there on this day, that had difficulty in relaying their stories as well, but it was hard not to think about anything else other than – my treasured memories….”
Written by Karen Robinson
LOOKING FOR SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL
Our next art therapy exercise involved getting a piece of paper and cutting a small hole out of it, in the centre, a hole big enough to peer through. We were then instructed to hold the paper up to our eye and look through it and then look for something ‘beautiful’ to focus on. The room we occupied had beautiful,ornate architraves. I used those images to create the above sketch.
WHAT I NEED NOW
The last art therapy exercise for the day, involved choosing a card from a set of cards. On one side of the card was an image, and on the other side of the card, were a set of words. Using the card as inspiration, we were asked to create an art work that reflected ‘what we need now’. My chosen card and its accompanying words as stated below, inspired my crayon art work above.
“We will call deep into the past to all our ancestors and they will come because they have to. Because…without us they do not exist and without them we do not exist…Boorndawan Willam Aboriginal Healing Service Cards”
During my sharing of my art work, I explained that what I needed now and look for, is joy in my life. I very much look for actions that tick the happy box in order to fulfill that desire. So there are lots of colourful shapes in my art work which is representative of having lots of avenues of finding joy in everyday life.
I must say, I found it difficult to go forward with the rest of the session after the visualisation process exercise, where I created my art work and story of ‘a tree of treasured memories’. Sometimes during art for therapy, I have found and still do find the process to be very challenging, difficult and confronting. Thankfully our co-facilitator had organised for the whole group to have lunch together after this session. This helped wash away any sadness I was feeling and I left in a good frame of mind; strong enough again to go back to working on actions that tick the happy box!…
NB: For the purposes of this weblog series “Art Therapy Group 2015”, 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.
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