Art therapy is an intervention and treatment modality I use a lot at my private practice. Not only can it be used in conjunction with other therapy models, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, it can be used with all ages and abilities.
I use art therapy in many forms at Indigo North Counseling, LLC— from drawing and painting to multimedia projects. I use photography, mandalas, collage, writing, triptychs, shrines, totems, life maps, altered books, found objects art, dreamcatchers, storytelling, and more.
Art taps into a whole different language for people to express themselves and share their stories. You don’t have to be adept at using words, or explaining things verbally, or remembering linear details of your life when you use art as a language. The colors, textures, symbols, and details speak for themselves— through metaphor, through process, through creation, and through release.
If you have a general interest in using art therapy to help you through a part of your life, to explore who you are, or to express any feelings, you may find some of the online activities to be helpful (use the keywords “art therapy activity” in your search engine).
However, if you need or desire more directed activity based on your unique needs, art therapy with a counselor or art therapist is recommended. Art therapy can be used to help with depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, acute stress, mood disregulation, self esteem, stress management, self care, adjustment to change, grief/loss, and more.
The next time you look for a boost to your well being, don't forget to consider art as part of your self care regimen.
Bonnie Thomas, LCSW
Indigo North Counseling, LLC
Metaphors provide a rich landscape of words and images to describe things. When you use metaphors to describe yourself, you are looking at who you are through a different lens. It's a creative way to expand on your knowledge and understanding of who you are as a person and how you see yourself. When I work with clients who love to journal or write I often encourage this writing prompt. It's a wonderful practice in creative expression and self awareness.
If you’ve never done this type of writing exercise, no worries— I will walk you through it.
1. Look at the following categories. Write down any that spark your interest or curiosity.
types of tea
the four elements
types of trees
elements on the periodic table
cards in a deck
rooms in a house
bodies of water
types of candy
types of cereal
If you think of other categories, add them to your list.
2. Next, go through the categories and reflect on what you would be if you were in that category.
If you were a type of weather phenomena what would you be?
a sunny day? a rainy day? a tornado? a rainbow? a sundog? an ice storm? a cloud? etc…
If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
Think about whether you’d be an animal that spends most of its time on land, water, or in the air. Is it living in the wild or in captivity? Is the animal considered to have certain characteristics that you can relate to such as being proud, courageous, silly, mischievous, or unpredictable?
How do people tend to respond to this animal?
What are the animal’s survival skills, i.e. does it burrow underground? Is it a skilled fighter? Can it hide itself with camouflage? Is it part of a protective pack?
Allow your imagination to play around with different metaphors. If you get stuck, move on to another category.
See if you can come up with at least 5 metaphors.
When you get to the end of Step 2 your list might look something like this:
Toy: Yo Yo
Weather phenomena: Sandstorm
Card in a deck: The Hermit (from a tarot deck)
Body of Water: A puddle
3. Expand on your answers as much as you can. Dive into each metaphor and see what you discover about yourself as this person, place, or thing you’ve chosen. Some of these might be concise and other might be more detailed. Either way is fine.
I am a tangled string on a yo yo.
I am an inchworm, slowly (but surely) reaching a destination.
I am a sandstorm, blinding everyone in my path.
I am The Hermit, upside down, seated next to the Queen of Swords.
I am a mud puddle — I appear from a deluge of rain and then I disappear.
Last, go through your answers and see what you want to keep and what you want to get rid of. Maybe 3 of your chosen metaphors actually fit the best. Maybe you've come up with 10. It’s all good.
You can leave them as a list of metaphors or you can incorporate them into a different writing piece altogether.
***Note: This is the first writing prompt that will be used in Stories, Words, and Alchemy: A Weekly Group for Writers Exploring Life’s Stories (February 2017) at Indigo North Counseling, LLC in Biddeford, ME. ***
Indigo North Counseling,LLC
When I need to find my balance or quiet my heart and soul, I create art. Art is my favorite form of therapy and self expression. One of my most treasured art projects is making these Spirit Stones.
While walking various trails or beaches I collect rocks that are flat. Scanning the earth for rocks is calming and centering in and of itself. I keep the rocks in a jar until I have one of those days where my head is running full speed ahead and just needs
Then I paint a bunch of these stones all at once. I use various pens-- from oil based ink, to chalk pens, to permanent markers. Some of my favorite patterns and images include feathers, arrows, a compass rose, spirals, geometric shapes, words of inspiration, eyes, and mandalas. Try making your own and see if it calms and centers you also! The rocks can be placed around your home or office to remind you to relax, to inspire you, or to bring some creative energy to your space.
I keep supplies on hand at Indigo North Counseling, LLC to make these stones with clients of all ages-- sometimes we make them as Spirit Stones, other times we add them to other projects or create them for "worry stones".
Bonnie Thomas, LCSW
Indigo North Counseling