Art Therapy Experiential Blog Series
by Lacey Ford (B.A. Psychology, D.T.A.T.I)
Creating Healthy Boundaries in Intimate Relationships (June 2019)
Theme: Creating a sculpture to represent how it feels to experience/express intimacy and healthy sexual boundaries
As an art therapist it is crucial that I practice the art therapy techniques and themes I introduce to clients, so I can explore the possible benefits or risks beforehand. Since therapy is a vulnerable experience for most, it is important that I look at my own vulnerabilities to aid my personal and professional development.
I created the sculpture shown above to examine my own feeling & perspectives about intimacy and sexual boundaries, as preparation for an art therapy group I lead at the Gatehouse for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Developing healthy boundaries around intimacy is very important when working with survivors of sexual abuse, because the boundaries were violated during the abuse. Survivors feel unsafe in their own bodies. The aim of this particular art therapy is to help survivors feel in control of their bodies and voices around sexual boundaries.
Reflection: I depicted myself as a tree reaching upward to show the feeling of steadiness and empowerment. The tree also signifies the natural vulnerability that exists in sexual intimacy, which is why it is key to develop trust and clear communication with our partners when we choose to share this experience. On top of the tree sits a flame, that represents the passion or fire that can be experienced whenever sexual boundaries are made clear and are respected during intimacy. Finally, the boundary around the sculpture is tied into my root system. It is heart shaped because maintaining sexual, mental, and physical boundaries is the foundation for creating healthy relationships with ourselves and others. Communicating and practicing these boundaries is not selfish. It is necessary to show love and care for ourselves and others.
Mood Tracking Through the Metaphor of Weather (July 2019)
Theme: Represent your weekly weather pattern (mood patterns)
Description: Recording your mood patterns can benefit anyone who regularly experiences changes in mood or energy levels.
The metaphor of ‘weather patterns,’ invites clients to illustrate their moods each day for a week. When the client comes in for art therapy, we explore what happened each day. Together we discuss creative solutions to help manage moods. When the client repeats this exercise for a longer time, say a month, the client begins to see the patterns of their moods. Clients can also see if the mood-stabilizing techniques we discussed are working.
Reflection: The image above records my mood or weather pattern during a recent week. It helped me to slow down and reflect. I was able to connect with the feelings of each day through the painting. I was also able to see patterns in my mood cycle. It motivated me to adjust my self-care practices. For example, I noticed that on Mondays I feel like I have low energy. Starting my day with a physical activity could help boost my mood for the rest of the day. On Thursdays I usually feel exhausted and close to burn out. It would be a good idea to do something to relieve stress at least on Wednesday evenings.