Outline for the Ottawa 2017 summer workshops:
Summer EXPRESSIVE ART WORKSHOPS for Social Workers and Counsellors
"Walk the (creative) talk" with Michelle April, Counsellor and Art Therapist
Thank you for joining this summer workshop series. This is a hands-on expressive art workshop for social workers, counsellors and counsellors-in-training to uncover your personal creative process so that you may inspire creativity in others.
Today we will expand your:
Personal artistic vocabulary
Creative capacity in talk therapy
Use of metaphors
Understanding of art-based research
The act of making art will inform us about our strengths and insecurities almost instantly.
I don't know what I'm doing
I'm not an artist
This is uncomfortable
Why did I choose pink?
This is not looking the way I want it to look
This is stupid
Wow I'm good
Why didn't I do this years ago?
Next, FEELINGS surface to reinforce the thought(s):
This is embarrassing
I am inadequate
How joyous to move this paint around
Stomach turning in nervousness
Quivering in the body that feels like tears will start
Energy rising for the experience
General sense of embodiment
SPIRIT language, articulated in the aftermath (occurring in the making):
"This is my mother's hand cupped up to the sky to stop the rain (or the tears) from falling on me"
"I painted the sky yellow to bring my grandmother into the painting. She is dead now. She was more a mother to me than my own mother. Whenever the women in my family turned 30, she would send them a dozen yellow roses."
The spiritual dimension of this process is what we call 'meaning making' in art therapy or expressive art. Art is a vehicle for discovering meaning in a way that is external and therefore can be re-internalized in a new form.
Here is one example of shifting meaning:
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ~ Viktor Frankl
Phenomenology is the study of essences: the essence of perception and the essence of consciousness. It is a deeply contemplative philosophical method in which one allows oneself to perceive the many levels of meaning implicit in the description of reality so that one can distill the essence.”
"The word phenomena comes from the Greek verb “to appear.” Phenomena include anything that can be perceived and observed with our senses and our minds such as mental and physical experiences: visible, touchable, audible things in the world as well as thoughts, feelings, dreams, memories and fantasies. The phenomenological method is used to investigate the full subjective experiencing of things in the world as they present themselves in consciousness as immediate experiences."
(Taken from: Monica Carpendale, B. F. A., & DVATI, B. GETTING TO THE UNDERBELLY)
What is art-based research? The process of making art and the processing of the art is art-based research. We explore the “phenomenon” of the moment and in the act of expression – in other words, the first person, subjective observation of the object of the creative process is “phenomenological”. Expressive art and expressive art therapy is a powerful means to make sense of the world and its circumstances. In this spirit, today we will: 1) notice the act of creation unfold, 2) pause (write, observe the marks), 3) reflect, and lastly, 4) dialogue about meaning (or lack therof) and notice what threads appear.
Personal artistic vocabulary
Questions that reveal our personal artistic vocabulary:
What am I attracted to in terms of materiality, colour, etc.?
What sort of imagery appeals to me?
What questions come up for me in the act of mark-making?
What patterns do I tend toward?
Do I try to break with the patterns or become more skilled at the pattern through repetition? Etc.
Expanding the metaphor: Creative capacity in talk therapy. It is all about curiosity.
How might these creative explorations used in art therapy/expressive arts be translated in talk therapy form? How might these worlds intersect?
Case study: Cindy and John
Cindy: I feel like there is a wall around me.
Therapist: Tell me about the wall.
Cindy: I feel trapped inside it.
Therapist: Are you alone in there?
Cindy: Very much alone.
Therapist: What is the wall made of? How thick is it? Can you see the sky?
Cindy: It is about three feet thick, it is cylindrical. It is made of stone. No, I cannot see the sky. It is dark inside.
Therapist: Are there no windows?
Cindy: There are no windows or doors. It is completely dark.
Therapist: It sounds vacuous and isolating. Scary. Does it feel that way for you?
Cindy: Yes, it does. I don't like it in here. I don't know what to do about it though. The wall is much stronger than I am. It has been there a long time. I have no defenses against it. No tools. Just a prison.
Therapist to John: When you hear Cindy talk about her experience of the wall that surrounds her, what does it bring up in you?
John: I had no idea that this is how Cindy is living. I had no idea that she has been struggling so much. Had I known that I might have gone gentler on her.
(Cindy begins to weep. We sit with her for a moment, and we talk about the empathy that she is receiving from John. She tells him it’s not his fault that she cannot be reached at times).
Therapist: John, when you described hitting a wall with Cindy, were you running into her wall? Or was it a different wall?
John: I don't know.
Therapist: What happens when you run into to the wall? What does it feel like?
John: I bounce off it, almost like it's made of rubber...its like I enter a wee little bit by some force and then I'm shot back out very quickly.
Therapist: Ok, so it feels like you make slight headway and then you are not only prevented from getting past the wall, you are outright rejected from it placing you behind where you started.
And so on.
Quick feedback survey:
How has today’s experiential learning through the act of art making informed your clinical practice or other work with people?
Best aspect of today:
How might this experience have been made better for you?
Thank you for attending!
Outline for the Windsor 2017 October 27, 2017 workshop: stay tuned