How Art and Therapy Can Interact to Help Us
By Sandy Schroeder
When life tosses us a curve and we struggle with sadness or loss, art may be one more way to help us regain our balance. Some years ago a friend of mine mentioned she had used art as therapy in a difficult time in her life. Since then I have watched others turn to art to deal with emotions, sadness, and serious losses.
Psychcentral’s Stephanie Medford and Natalie Foster offer some ways that we all might find answers for life in art. Here are some ways that adults and kids can use art to practice self-care.
Sketch out your feelings - You might want to keep a daily journal with small squares or full pages to doodle out how you are feeling. When I do this and look back, I am amazed at the short dark strokes for anger and the rolling curvy lighter lines for happiness that so quickly indicate what was going on then. As you sketch, it really does help you let go of some of the negative feelings, and gain more insight into them.
Shape some clay - When life feels totally out of control a ball of clay may provide a soothing sense of control. Choose an air-dry clay or get non-drying modeling clay and keep it in an air-tight container.
Do some collages - If you are not into sketching, just gather up some old magazines and clip out items that express how you are feeling, sticking them down in the patterns that fit. Again, when you look back at them, or look at ones your child has created you may clearly see emotions running through them.
Create your story - Use whatever you like, small swatches of fabric, dried flowers, bits of shells or tiny pieces of glass. The idea is to use them to tell your story. You may have to create several versions to get the real life story that captures who you are. Or you may want to make a new one down the road if there is a whole new chapter.
Unfocus your art - Draw a picture of your child, pet or home, but do it without looking at the notebook. I have not tried this, and I think I would find it difficult, but the idea is to let go of outcomes and become less attached.
If this technique appeals to you, or you can see using it with your children, remember the process when new challenges occur. When a child comes home with problems, or you run into a fresh new crisis at work, art may be your best friend to regain control and gain perspective.
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