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.

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Sound Meditation, 22nd May 2012: Mountain
August 5, 2012

Standing upright, we embody our mountain qualities

Far sighted, clear sighted

Rooted deeply in the earth, our summits in the cool, clean air,

Within our core lie hidden treasures awaiting discovery.

We have weathered the onslaughts of flood, fire, storm and earthquake,

Yet, we continue to stand firm on our foundations.

We provide shelter and sanctuary for many,

Protecting those who depend on us.

For eons, we have observed the passing of night and day,

the passage of sun, moon and stars.

We are beacons of light

Banishing shadows and illuminating our world.

The art work and writing in this post were inspired by the theme of one of the meditation classes I conduct at The Basin Community House.

I incorporate the sound of healing bowls in the meditations.

Art for Wellbeing 2012
February 3, 2012

In these workshops, the art comes from the connection we make with our inner world.

Learn how:

  • you can access your inner world through art and using your intuition.
  • art can enhance self understanding and expression.
  • art making has the potential to enhance your health and well being.

Explore themes relevant to our life’s journey and living an authentic life.

No previous art experience is required.

Bring protective clothing and for the one day workshops, lunch to share.

Art for Wellbeing workshops are being offered at:

The Basin Community House

Wednesdays: 10.00am – 4.00pm

7th to 28th March

Fee:$95 includes art materials

Ph: 9761 0209 to enrol.

Mountain District Learning Centre

Saturday: 10.00am  – 4.00pm

3rd of March

Fee: $65 includes art materials

Ph: 9758 7859 to enrol.

The venue for the workshop is the ‘studio’ located behind the Uniting Church in Ferntree Gully.

Enter the car park via Alma Ave. Ferntree Gully.

Emerald Community House

Saturday: 10.00am – 4.00pm

19th of May

Fee: $70 includes art materials

Ph: 5968 3881 to enrol.

An art therapy approach is used in the workshops – the focus is on the process of making art.  The emphasis is on exploration and play rather than being technically proficient.

Participants are encouraged to:

  • approach the creative process with no judgement or preconceptions but to feel free to try new experiences and play freely with ideas.
  • trust the creative process, their intuition and instincts.
  • ignore their inner critic and their fears of  what others may think of their art.
  • set aside ideas of what is right or wrong in making art and to treat any perceived ‘mistakes’ as creative opportunities.

If you want to learn more about art therapy, check out Cathy Malchiodi’s website and blogs.

Please feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss these workshops.

Sound Meditation 2012
January 16, 2012

The back to school merchandise is appearing in shops as well as early easter novelties, so I thought it was time I started to promote the courses I am offering in the early part of 2012.

In this post I am focussing on the sound meditation sessions being offered as part of  The Basin Community House  program.

The four sessions are being held on Tuesday evenings 21st of February to the 13th of March from 7.00pm to 8.00pm.

The sessions provide an opportunity for relaxation, quiet reflection, the raising of self awareness and healing.

The sounds of healing bowls, rattles and a rain stick provide a focus for the mind during the meditation.

One participant has commented that the sounds of  particular bowls call her attention back if her mind becomes distracted.

Participants enjoy the different qualities of the sounds during the meditations.

Arlo gets to stay at home.

A theme is offered for each meditation session.

During Term 4 2011, the following themes were offered:

  • healing through visualising a white light
  • creating a tranquil, peaceful place engaging all the senses
  • the soundtrack of our lives where participants reflected on their personal associations with particular sounds or music
  • reflecting on participants’ scripts or stories about the Festive Season.

No prior experience of meditation practice is required to attend these sessions.

The course fee is $40.

The venue is The Basin Progress Hall situated on the corner of  Forest Rd. and Mountain Highway. There is ample parking behind the hall.

You will need to bring a pillow, mat to lie on, blanket and water bottle.

Contact The Basin Community House  Ph: 9761 0209 to enrol for the sessions.

Ph: 8711 8938 or email: margaret@margaretgriffin.com.au (www.margaretgriffin.com.au) if you would like to talk to me about the sound meditation sessions.

The Basin Community House also conducts Belly Dancing, Dog Grooming and Quigong/Taichi classes at The Basin Progress Hall. Check the Term 1 Program for further details.