Therapist Artwork During Sessions

Sara Roizen ~ acrylic on paper
A few days ago (on my Facebook Art Therapy Spot Wall) I posted some images of artwork that I had recently created during art therapy sessions with my clients. 

Someone asked me some very interesting questions about my process in terms of making art during sessions. Below is my first response to some of these questions, and I hope this will inspire some more dialogue around the topic. 

I was asked: Is your art work reflecting the thinking of your clients? Is it a way of catharsis? Or do you sort out their problems by analyzing there art work?
Sara Roizen ~ acrylic on paper
Sara Roizen ~ acrylic, decorative paper, and mod podge on paper
There are different reasons that I will (or will not) choose to make art with my clients during a session, and more than anything it tends to be an intuitive decision at the time. One way of looking at therapist art making during sessions is having another form of “dialogue” with my client in addition to the verbal dialogue that it taking place. In looking at my own artwork after sessions, it often serves as a visual record for themes that came up during the session.
Although art therapists are trained in the theory of art “analysis” most art therapists do not actively analyze a client’s artwork during sessions. I feel that the client’s own associations to their artwork is the most important aspect when looking at the client’s artwork. In order for the processing of art to be meaningful, it is key for the client to find their own personal meanings within their artwork.
I will often create post-session art as a way to process my own feelings and thoughts after a session with a client. A while back I wrote a blog post and shared a few art pieces I had created after sessions, as a way of processing countertransference. A while back I wrote a short post about creating post-session imagery as an art therapist, and included a few abstract portraits I had done of some clients. If you are interested in checking out that post, follow this link: Art Therapy Spot: Countertransference
Sara Roizen ~ colored pencils on black paper

Do you ever create art during or after art therapy sessions with your clients? If so, how does your own art process help you to gain insight into your sessions? Does it deepen the therapeutic dialogue, or has it ever been a hindrance?

Join the conversation! My art therapy spot blog has a Facebook page here: Art Therapy Spot: Facebook

Sara Roizen ~ silver paper and colored pencils on black paper
Sara Roizen ~ acrylic & tempera on paper (applied with palette knife)

Random Acts of Kindness (and Creation!)

Sara Roizen 2011 ~ acrylic, aluminum foil, and sand on canvas
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”  – Plato

The idea for this post came to me a few days ago, when I was thinking about some of the suggestions I have given my clients who are struggling with depression and other life difficulties. Sometimes when we are feeling overwhelmed by the intricacies of our own life challenges, it can be very healing to step outside of ourselves for a moment. 

One way to engage in an act of kindness is to extend ourselves to someone else who is struggling. Although it might seem counter-intuitive at first, engaging in acts of kindness towards others can be part of our own healing process. It helps us to remember how connected we all are in reality, and this can be a powerful reminder when we are experiencing an emotion or situation in which we feel isolated and alone. It can divert our attention from our own suffering, and broaden our perspective. It also aids in the re-directing of our energy and provides us with a creative and productive outlet. 

Art making provides us with a direct way to engage with others and share our creativity and vision. Below are just a few ideas to get you thinking about ways that you might use your own art-making in acts of kindness.

Some artful acts of kindness to try

  • Donate a piece of your art to a local hospital 
  • Create a hand-made card and send it the “old fashioned” way in the mail – send it to someone who might need a little extra TLC at the moment
  • Join in the creation of a community mural, in an environment that could use some new energy and creativity 
  • Donate a piece of art for a silent auction that raises money for a local organization you would like to support
  • Looking for wedding gifts that you won’t on the gift registry? Create a unique book of photographs for the couple that highlights their life together – for a great site where you can create your own books go to: Blurb
  • Similar to the previous idea, create a book of photographs full of images that you know the other person will find inspiring and uplifting (and add any words/poems/quotes to the book that might also help heal!)
  • Volunteer for an afternoon doing art projects with children, adults, or the elderly…Here are a few organization’s sites that offer arts-based volunteer opportunities: Free Arts (NYC)New York Cares There are many organizations like this all over the U.S. so just do a search for one in your area 🙂
  • Donate art materials or any material that could be used for art projects to an organization or a school  
Here are a few sites to inspire you:
Pay it Forward (Movie) 

Have you performed a random act of kindness for someone you know, or someone you don’t know? Have you ever received an act of kindness from someone else? What are some experiences that have really stuck with you and touched your life in some way? 

The Invitation (A Poem)

Photo: Sara Roizen 2011
A friend shared this poem with me over the weekend. I was very moved by it, as it seems to go to the heart of what healing work and process is all about. Read the words and explore what this poem might mean for you personally. Please feel free to comment, and let us know about your own associations and feelings after reading this poem.
The Invitation
by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Indian Elder 
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your hearts longing. 
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive. 
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals, or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. 
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it. I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human. 
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true, I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. 
I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore trustworthy. I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it is not pretty every day, and if you can source your life from its presence. 
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours or mine, and still stand
on the edge of a lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!” 
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children. 
It doesn’t interest me who you are, or how you came to be here- I want to
know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back. 

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself, and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments. 

Photo: Sara Roizen 2011