Archive for the ‘Art Therapy Exercises’ Category

Intuitive Collage
October 18, 2016

In late August, I attended an Intuitive Collage workshop being offered by Ann Bidstrup of Heart Art . The purpose of the workshop was to gain a greater appreciation of what is significant to us at this time through a process of inquiry leading to the creation of a series of collages. From time to time, Ann offers workshops based on art therapy practices where the process of creating takes precedence over the finished work. Another similar workshop was Inspirational Beads which I attended in 2011.

The process of creating the collages was simple, but intense. The first stage of the process was collecting images from magazines. Putting the logical part of our brains to one side, we cut out images which attracted our attention. No over thinking here, just collecting images which said ‘Pick me, pick me.’

The next stage was sorting through the images and selecting a few which had the strongest attraction. Choosing one image to work with, we began the process of internal inquiry, imagining ourselves within the image and exploring how it had meaning or significance for us. We wrote down our thoughts until we could give a name to the image which signified its connection to us at this time.

The final stage was assembling the collage using other images which complemented the theme of the dominant image. The images were glued to card 13cm x 20cm.

During the full day workshop, I created three collaged cards.


This first card is titled ‘Phoenix’.

As my role of aunt has diminished, I am undergoing a period of transition, letting go of the old and creating new roles for myself here in Castlemaine.


This card is ‘Joy’.

The cheeky frog represents the joyful aspects of my life at present. I chose the hot, happy colours to complement this theme.



The title of the final card is ‘Survival’.

I am reminded to pay attention to those things in life which assist with my survival – which keep me functional in this world.

The Forest Spirit
January 18, 2014

DSCN1567This is one from the archives.

I drew this picture using oil pastels during an art therapy workshop ‘Mandala Art and Music’ in 2008.

We were asked to respond to a piece of music representing the forest.

I feel a strong connection with this drawing depicting the forest spirit, The Green Man.

Art Therapy: Drawing Anger
November 2, 2012

This drawing is definitely one from my archives.

I was being a case study for my friend who was studying the Diploma of Transpersonal Art Therapy at Phoenix Institute of Australia.

As part of the art therapy session, my friend requested I draw my anger. As the end of my career in the community sector drew near, I was feeling a mixture of anger, frustration and grief.

The drawing was made quickly and spontaneously. I was pleased with it. I knew the fire breathing, blood spitting, fanged monster well.

Representing emotions visually is a common art therapy exercise. The art therapist and client explore the drawing as a means of understanding the role the emotion has in the life of the client.

Introduction to Art Therapy, 8th of August 2012
August 13, 2012

What is Arts Therapy?

Arts Therapy uses creative processes, including art making, drama, and movement to improve and enhance physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Arts therapy based on the holistic and transpersonal traditions recognises the spiritual dimension of human experience and uses creative processes to enhance spiritual wellbeing. 

Arts therapy is suitable for all ages and many life situations, and can be done with individuals or groups.

Arts therapy works by accessing imagination and creativity, which can generate new models of living, and contribute towards the development of a more integrated sense of self, with increased self awareness and acceptance.

It differs from traditional art making in that the emphasis is on the process of creating and meaning – making, rather than on the end product.

This explanation is based on the one used on the ANZATA website. It encompasses art therapy using the visual arts as well as other creative therapies.

On the 8th of August, I conducted an Introduction to Art Therapy workshop at The Basin Community House for students undertaking a course offering introductory information on various healing modalities. The workshop was largely experiential with the students participating in two art therapy activities. I also provided information on art therapy as a career.

Art Therapy Activity One: – Body Scan

The purpose of the body scan is to bring the mind to the present moment and to focus inward. In doing so, we develop our awareness of bodily and emotional sensations. We learn to be sensitive to the information our bodies are giving and make decisions about how to respond.

Initially, the students found the exercise confronting for a few reasons:

  • the process was new to them
  • one participant had to be ‘real’ about what was going on in life that week
  • the students had to overcome their reluctance to draw because they were not ‘artists’.

One of the challenges of living in our culture is the belief held by many adults that only ‘artists’ can paint, draw etc. Indeed, after being told at some point in their childhood that they were no good at art, adults can be afraid to draw.

To their credit, the students rose to the occasion and entered into the process of filling their body outlines with shapes, lines and colours representing feelings and physical sensations. They added details of the ground they were standing on emotionally  and filled the background of their drawings with how their week had been. Words were added as they reflected on the drawings they had made.

Students connected at a deeper level as they shared information about their body scans.

Art Therapy Activity Two:  – Symbol Work

Symbol work makes use of the ability of humans to give meaning to inanimate objects. Art therapy uses processes which encourage clients to engage in a variety of ways through imagery, imagination, language and physical movement or touch.

This activity built on the earlier body scan exercise and its purpose was to encourage students to explore their priorities in life at present in terms of where they expended their time and energy.

I asked the students to find a symbol which represented themselves at this stage of their lives. Students could choose from a range of objects and pictures which I had provided. They were then asked to surround the symbol of themselves with others which represented their priorities in life at present. Students reflected on what they had created and wrote words on small cards which were arranged around the symbols. Finally, the students reflected in writing in response to my questions: Did their priorities cover a range of life areas such as health, practical matters, emotions, relationships, intellectual stimulation, nurturing the spirit? Were their priorities concentrated in a few areas? How satisfied were they with how they spent their time and energy? What did they learn from the exercise?

In undertaking this activity, the students found they could connect with each other through their shared experiences and where they currently were in their lives.

As happens in symbol work, the students readily found cards and objects which they could give meaning to. Throughout the activity including the sharing and discussion, the students handled their cards and objects – touching, moving, holding them up, interacting with each other through the symbols.

Body Scans
January 1, 2012

I took a short break in the lead up to the festive season – my mind was well and truly diverted elsewhere. It is the first day of 2012 and it seems a good idea to kick off the new year with my third post.

I was introduced to the art therapy technique of body scanning in two workshops I attended in 2010/2011.

The purpose of the body scan is to bring the mind to the present moment and to focus inward. In doing so, we develop our awareness of bodily and emotional sensations. We learn to be sensitive to the information our bodies are giving and  make decisions about how to respond.

In the workshops, participants were asked to represent bodily sensations and feelings using colours, shapes and lines within a simple body outline and to consider some questions.

Workshop 1

After drawing a jelly baby outline, we were asked to consider the following questions:

  • Scan the body – what is there and where?
  • What does your body need to do?
  • Is your body giving you a message? What?  

Winter Blues

This picture was drawn on the 6th of June 2010 at a time of the year when I tend to be more vulnerable both physically and emotionally. I was clearly having a hard time of it that day.

Workshop 2

Using a simple body template, we were asked to show:

  •  what is happening physically
  •  what is happening emotionally
  • the ground I am standing on
  • what the world feels like now in the background.

Life is Pretty Good Today

I drew this picture on the 23rd of July 2011. My experience of life was somewhat more upbeat compared with the year previously.

  • The head buzzing with stimulation
  • The eyes feeling heavy from too many late nights watching The Tour de France
  • The stomach comfortably full after lunch
  • Knees and heels a bit sore and stiff
  • The body feeling calm and settled
  • The fertile ground supporting lush growth reflecting the day’s environment
  • The background reflecting a mixture of optimism and heavy dreariness.
I intend including body scanning in my own workshops in the future.
I would appreciate your comments on the usefulness of this art therapy technique.