Art Therapy Sessions with Jaclynne Thomas

Art is a form of communication. It allows you to express your thoughts, feelings and emotions through a variety of mediums including everything from clay, to paint, to pen & paper; and other modalities such as movement and sound therapy. Art Therapy uses these forms of communication as a different way for us to express ourselves.

Art Therapy is a creative, therapeutic and calming way to help you and give you the tools you need to be able to facilitate healing in a safe and healthy way. Each person and each session is different – sometimes the sessions don’t even involve “art”. There are many different ways of expressing yourself that don’t include drawing or painting, but we’ll get a little more into depth about that later…

Art Therapy Pencils

WHO IS ART THERAPY FOR?

Many people find that Art Therapy is a more effective way for them to release their emotions rather than talking or verbalising. For example, sometimes it’s the physical release of emotions that can help to calm us, rather than just talking about them. Art Therapy can be easier and less intimidating, it’s particularly good for children or people who have trouble conveying their feelings through words. In fact, Art Therapy is perfect for all ages!

I often hear people say that they can’t draw. Art Therapy does not require any skills whatsoever! It’s all about the process rather than the end product. It’s the meaning you make from the lines, shapes, colours and symbols that you draw and create.

Think you’re not creative? Think back to yesterday, did you create an outfit to wear? Did you make a meal for yourself or your family? Creativity is not limited to art; you can be creative in a variety of unique and individual ways.

HOW CAN ART THERAPY HELP YOU?

Art Therapy is a wonderful safe way to release emotions and energy, such as anger, stress or sadness. Personally, I am very passionate about this part of Art Therapy as I myself have witnessed the results and have seen many of my clients benefit from releasing their emotional energy and replacing it with positive energy and healthy habits. By using any sort of therapy to help release your emotions your body feels lighter and your mind feels clearer. By expressing and exploring your thoughts through art you can gain clarity and insight into yourself & your situation.

But it’s not just about energy. Art Therapy encourages self-awareness, problem solving and creativity. It helps us to be more mindful about our lives. This particular form of therapy helps you to identify blocks and triggers that may be stopping you from living your best possible life and empowers you to access your own personal resources. It really does give you the tools and know-how to do your own healing.

I think one thing I love about Art Therapy is that you can actually obtain faster results as you bypass the need to formulate your story into words. Where in a counselling session you might be required to talk about your problems, and therefore put your story into words, with art you can literally scribble your energy out on a piece of paper when you’re stressed.

Art Therapy Crayons

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM AN ART THERAPY SESSION WITH ME.

I facilitate Art Therapy sessions from a goal orientated and client centred approach. This means it’s all about you and how you’re doing. It’s your time to relax and enjoy the experience. You can even think of it as a gift to yourself!

Everyone’s experience will differ as we are all unique individuals of course! I don’t ever like to “cookie-cutter” my sessions. As I mentioned, each session is goal oriented and client focused. You have my complete focus in helping you achieve your goals – and no two person’s goals are exactly the same or achieved in the same way.

It is recommended to have five sessions of Art Therapy to obtain the full benefit but it is entirely your decision as to how many you would like!

The following is a brief overview of what you might expect from your sessions with me:

First Session:

First sessions are usually a meet & greet and building a rapport with my clients. I am very mindful that it can sometimes be difficult to express yourself in front of a stranger; for others it is easy. The first session is about getting to know each other so that you can feel at ease and completely relaxed in our following sessions.

I’ll also explain what Art Therapy is about in a bit more depth than this blog post, go over some paperwork, and discuss confidentiality, and we’ll talk about your reasons for choosing an Art Therapy session and what you’d like to get out of your sessions with me.

At some point in the first session I’ll also do a breathing exercise and a guided meditation with you. This gives you a chance to relax, be present in the moment and think about a goal you would like to work on in the following sessions. If you are not comfortable with doing meditation I have other exercises that we can use, an example would be to do a movement exercise.

Art Therapy Derwents

Second (and following) Sessions:

I like to start with another breathing exercise and guided meditation, but again, if you’re not comfortable with this, there is other exercises we can do. The main component of the session will vary from client to client depending on the individual’s goals. There are a very large range of things we can do and try to help with each situation. It will include, but not limited to, the use of art materials such as pencils, textas, oil pastels, paint, collage, clay, and so many more. Again there is absolutely no need for you to have artistic skills, it’s the process not the product that counts!

It may also include movement, sound or drama therapy, dialoguing or construction. There are so many different ways for you to express your thoughts and feelings, these are just some examples!

After you have completed your artwork, we then discuss how you felt while you were creating or drawing; for example the lines, shapes, colours and symbols you have used in your art work and how this relates back to your goal. We view your artwork from many different angles so you can obtain different viewpoints. By doing this you gain insight and clarity, which can lead to healing.

Don’t worry though, I don’t analyze your art work, in fact it’s more important that you make meaning from it. I’m only here to help and guide you along the way.

At the end of the session there will be another breathing exercise and guided meditation or an alternative. Then we’ll debrief and discuss what you gained from the experience, what you liked or didn’t like and if you want to proceed with more sessions.

Again, sessions 2 and beyond follow the same pattern but might have different goals and exercises associated with them. Each session is about exploring your ultimate goal further, but can be adapted if something comes up in between sessions that you want to explore.

Between Sessions:

I like to follow up in between sessions with an email to check in with you and see how you are going. It can be that once you start therapy other things may arise, and that’s perfectly fine, though it is important for you increase your self care if this does happen. You will always receive support from me and I am more than happy to provide other support & contact numbers that suit your circumstances.

AN EXAMPLE OF AN ART THERAPY EXERCISE

I wanted to share with you something that I tried out for myself. It’s just one of the many Art Therapy exercises that I sometimes use during my sessions with clients. The goal of this exercise is to obtain self awareness.

The question I asked myself was “If I was a colour and shape today, what would I look like?”.

Art Therapy exercise 1

I drew an outline of a heart in red oil pastel. I then asked myself what I saw and how I felt about it. I saw an outline of a red heart, it was empty and on closer inspection it looked unbalanced. I was surprised by this as I thought I felt happy and I didn’t like how the picture was making me feel. I thought about what I would change about this drawing that would make me feel better. I decided to fill in my heart with colour.

I now saw a happier picture, I saw a funny face in the middle of my heart smiling and seeing my heart filled in made me feel better. This did a few things: it achieved my goal of self awareness by allowing insight into how I was actually feeling today. I also had the power to change things.

Art Therapy exercise 2

If someone had asked me to tell them how I was feeling I would have just said happy. I could now choose to explore deeper, to find out why I was feeling empty and unbalanced, and what things do I have to fill my heart with to be happy?

This could be done by drawing, painting, constructing or dialoguing with the emptiness to explore why I felt unbalanced. There are so many options available to help, these are just some of the examples.

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT!

Everything in this post is just a brief outline of what Art Therapy is about. Of course I could talk (or type) about it for days as there is so much that we can do together to help you reach your goals. I’d love to hear from you if you any questions or concerns, just email me here. I’ll also be posting more information and examples soon, so stay tuned! And if you’re interested in booking a session keep an eye out for my promotion over the next couple of days!

Love and hugs Jace xx

 

 

Some Thoughts About Loss & Grief

Hi Everyone,
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year from me to you.
Lots of love and special hugs
Jace xx

I’d like to share something I personally struggle with around this time of year. I struggle with the emotions I feel at losing family members, my parents and especially, my Mother. My Mother has been gone a while now but I still miss and grieve for her. Christmas as well as all the other holidays, birthdays, etc, can invoke lots of emotions. Grieving for someone can last years, everyone grieves differently and it doesn’t fully go away, no matter how long your love ones have been gone.

Unfortunately I have lost a lot of family members, death, dying and loss were never explained to me as a child. It was never discussed or talked about much and as such I have struggled over the years to come to terms with it. There was this attitude of “its done just move on and get on with it”. This has lead to suppressing emotions over the years. There is no blame, my parents weren’t told either so they did the best they could.

With me there always seemed to be something that triggered my emotions, every year, around Christmas, without fail. The other day I accidentally dropped my Mother’s wooden bowl and a bit chipped off. I was quite surprised with my reaction.

First there was shock and how did that happen?! I just stared at the bowl on the floor in disbelief. Then anger with myself for being clumsy. Internal dialogue that went something like: “You broke Mum’s bowl! The special one that held the special wooden fruit in it! The one you had kept safe for over 15 years! That bowl has traveled interstate and not broken! How could you do that, especially now! Good grief! You held onto it to pass it on to one of the kids” with a few choice words mixed in for good measure.

After a while of just standing there, ranting and raving in my head, I picked up the bowl and the bits of wood and hoped I could fix it and it would be ok. Of course, even if it could be fixed, it would never be the exact same, and the memory of the incident would be there too.

After all that came the crying and lots of it! Obviously I didn’t have my Therapist hat on!

Ok, Therapist hat back on…

Breathing now and calmly reflecting back on the incident I realize that there was a lot I learned from it. I first had to acknowledge my emotions; it was okay for me to be shocked, angry, upset and I still feel abandoned. Acknowledging your feelings is a step towards self realization and healing.

The biggest insight for me was that I was still holding onto my Mother or at least what I thought was a part of her. I need to let things go. Even if I fix the bowl, it will never be the way it was, just as things are not the same without her. I will always miss her, I still sometimes get angry and upset that she’s gone and I am finding a way to be in the present and not the past.

When I look at my internal dialogue there are a lot of key words that jump out to me: special, safe and broken. My Mother was very special to me, she made me feel special, safe and sometimes I feel broken without her.

So many times we stop ourselves from crying when in fact it is very healing and therapeutic to do so. I released a lot of energy by crying it out. The Therapist in me wanted to dig a bit deeper to find some more clarity and answers; I have since had a dialoguing session (an Art Therapy tool) with my Mother and it has helped tremendously.

I discovered that I am capable of making myself feel special and safe, and I can fix anything that I perceive to be broken. My Mother will always be around me and it’s ok for me to have these feelings. I give myself permission to feel lost and abandonded sometimes and safe and special other times! I feel empowered by this knowledge and for now I’ve found some peace.

It’s still going to take time to heal and I keep finding ways to cope. An example is making a memory box about your loved one. You can draw pictures, write letters and keep special things in this box to help you express your feelings; expressing your thoughts and emotions, rather than holding it in helps with the healing process.

This incident was a lot like the grieving process itself. When you grieve you go through five stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Denial is where you’re in shock and you don’t believe it, you might feel anger about your loved ones leaving. Bargaining is where you say things like “If you let them stay I promise I’ll do ……”, depression when it’s starting to sink in that they are gone and finally you can feel acceptance about their passing.

You can go through these stages at different times, and you can go back and forward between them and they don’t always happen in this order. Be kind and patient with yourself.

I hope this has helped anyone who goes through similar issues. There is a light at the end of the tunnel! If you would like more information about how Art Therapy can help with grief or any other issues, please email me on hello@jaclynnethomas.com.au

 

You could also check out www.grief.com

If you need further help please call Lifeline on 13 11 14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Create Your Own Colouring Page

You don’t need any art skills! Art Therapy is all about the process rather than the end product.

Grab a pen, pencils, a piece of paper (any size you like). Take a few breaths in and out – just relax and start to draw squiggles and lines; try not to think about what you are drawing, just let the pen go where it wants to. Keep drawing until you have filled the page.

There is no right or wrong way to do this exercise!

colouring page

Once you have finished, you can now colour in all or some of the shapes you have created using whatever colours you wish.

The benefits of doing this exercise are numerous:

  • You are increasing your spontaneous creative expression. You’re being spontaneous as you’re not over-thinking what you are drawing.
  • It’s a great release for emotions.
  • You’re expending energy by drawing and releasing emotions. Emotions are energy in motion, everyone needs an expressive outlet that works for them.
  • By drawing and then colouring the shapes in you are being in the present moment. This will help you to ground yourself and help you to gain control of your thoughts and emotions.
  • It’s important to invest time for yourself!
  • It’s therapeutic and calming.
  • It’s insightful: Was it easy to do? Did you enjoy doing it? Did you get a noticeable benefit from it?

Photo2

Obtaining insight leads to self awareness and being self aware empowers you.

If you find this activity helpful to you, you can add it to your toolbox as a resource to use when you need to release some of your emotions and be present in the moment.

This activity can not in any way replace the benefits of an Art Therapy session. This is an example of one of the many different ways Art Therapy can help. If you need more help to express your emotions, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

I’d love to hear your experience or if you found this activity helpful. Feel free to share this with your friends!