Sunday, September 20, 2009


"The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off." Gloria Steinem

Friday, September 18, 2009


"No matter what your spiritual condition is, no matter where you find yourself in the universe, your choice is always the same: to expand your awareness or contract it."

-Thaddeus Golas

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Focusing Oriented Art Therapy

I just returned from a wonderful retreat in Sans Jose California, where I studied Focusing-Oriented Therapy with Ann Weiser Cornell (Inner Relationship Focusing) and Glenn Fleisch (WholeBody Focusing).
I presented my work of combining Art Therapy and Focusing to the group.If you are interested in this work, I will be presenting a three day workshop at Valley Ridge Studio in Madison Wis. next year on my work Focusing Oriented Art Therapy.
What is Focusing Oriented Art Therapy:
- In somatic art therapy we are working with the rhythmic flow of the body.
- The artwork is a way of becoming present and reflects the felt sense.
- The body supports and gives meaning to psychological states.
- Emotions find their affective expression through movement and art.
- Focusing and bodily sensing can awaken early memories and experiences.
- By creating art from a place of body awareness, clients see the ways in which their growth and development have been constrained and art expression has the power to redress these constraints.
- The art making is pre-articulate and comes from the felt sense.
- Somatic art therapy provides a deep awareness of one’s whole being on a sensory level and an ability to work with parts or pieces of being while holding the totality of the whole self.
- The ability to stay in Presence while working allows the client to safely experience and explore parts that may be hurt, fearful, ashamed, traumatized, or in pain.
- The therapist provides the safe container in which the client moves into and out of her/his inner process safely.
- Growth is a neuromuscular reorganization.
-Through art expression and sensory explorations our bodies discover and develop their healing capabilities. The art is a way of tracking this discovery.
- Tapping into the creative flow helps us tap into our own internal creative flow that helps us know who we are physically, emotionally, and cognitively.
- Playing with and knowing our creative expression helps us know our health expression. It has a unique pattern, flow, as does our creative expression.
- Knowing where we feel and act in the most creative way helps us identify what internal and external environments nurture us most so we can continue unfolding and growing.
- In moments of ‘embodiment’ you resonate on a deeper level and these resonation's can be recorded, expressed. This is psychosomatic integration.
In Focusing Oriented Art Therapy:
Art object:
- is only a product of the moment
- has a pattern, structure, and rhythm that reflects the pattern, structure, and rhythm of our selves, it is an externalized map of the internal self
- is about art, art is about describing the world and art is about the maker
- is about the archetypal, touching the archetypal aspects of our origins
Play is:
- trusting our spontaneity, entering imagination, the unexpected and interesting.
- going where you are attracted, staying away from struggle
- a way to enter joy and pleasure, having free expression, and attuning to the things around us
- moving into nonlinear, intuitive and spontaneous expression
- not being careless, it means being free
Process not product:
- When you create art for process, not product, you can go anywhere, do anything, as there is freedom and endless possibilities.
- There are no rules, just being in a place of not knowing, staying curious, present and mindful.
- Process art making is being spontaneous and suspending judgment.
- Process art making is finding the energy and creative potential in all states. Wherever you are is the entry point.
- Being in beginner’s mind allows us to perceive things freshly, see media with fresh state of mind and tapping into a sense of well-being or authenticity.
- Seeing is as important as doing, expanding your sensory awareness: touch, sight, smell, sound, seeing patterns, themes.
- Play and art can open up the creative cognitive processes: broad scanning ability, fluidity of thinking, flexibility, insight, synthesizing abilities, and divergent thinking

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Reflecting on Anger . . .

(an image done in an art therapy session showing internalized anger)

Most of us have received little help in learning to use our anger to clarify and strengthen ourselves and our relationships. Instead, our lessons have encouraged us to fear anger excessively, to deny it entirely, to displace it into inappropriate targets, or to turn it against ourselves. We learn to deny that there is any cause for anger, to close our eyes to its true sources, or to vent ineffectively, in a manner that only maintains rather than challenges, the status quo.

"The difference between the healthy energy of anger and the hurtful energy of emotional and physical violence is that anger respects boundaries. Standing forward ion your own behalf does not invade anyone's else's boundaries." Joann Peterson

The following is from Harriet Goldhor-Lerners book Dance of Anger.
1. Do speak up when an issue is important to you. Obviously, we do not have to address personally every injustice and irritation that comes along. To simply let something go can be an act of maturity. But it is a mistake to stay silent if the cost is to feel bitter, resentful, or unhappy. We de-self ourselves when we fail to take a stand on issues that matter to us.
2. Don’t strike while the iron is hot. A good fight will clear the air in some relationships, but if your goal is to change an entrenched pattern, the worst time to speak up may be when you are feeling angry or intense. If your fires start rising in the middle of a conversation, you can always say, “I need a little time to sort my thoughts out. Let’s set up another time to talk about it more.” Seeking temporary distance is not the same as a cold withdrawal or an emotional cutoff.
3. Do take time out to think about the problem and to clarify your position. Before you speak out, ask yourself the following questions. “What is it about the situation that makes me angry?” “What do I want to accomplish?” “Who is responsible for what?” “What, specifically, do I want to change?” “What are the things I will and will not do?”
4. Don’t use “below - the - belt” tactics. These include blaming, interpreting, diagnosing, labeling, analyzing, preaching, moralizing, ordering, warning, interrogating, ridiculing, and lecturing. Don’t put the other person down.
5. Do speak in “I” language. Learn to say, “I think. . . . . .” “I feel. . . . .” “I fear. . . . . “ “I want. . . . “A true “I” statement says something about the self without criticizing or blaming the other person and without holding the other person responsible for our feelings and reactions.
Watch out for disguised “you” statements or pseudo “I” statements. (“I think you are controlling and self-centered.”)
6. Don’t make vague requests. (“I want you to be more sensitive to my needs.”) Let the other person know specifically what you want. (“The best way that you can help me now is simply to listen. I really don’t want advice at this time.”) Don’t expect people to anticipate your needs, to do things that you have not requested. Even those who love you can’t read your mind.
7. Do try to appreciate the fact that people are different. We move away from fused relationships when we recognize that there are so many ways of seeing the world as there are people in it. If you’re fighting about who has the “truth,” you may be missing the point. Different perspectives and ways of reacting do not necessarily mean that one person is “right” and the other “wrong”.
8. Don’t participate in intellectual arguments that go nowhere. Don’t spin your wheels trying to convince others of the “rightness” of your position. If the person is not hearing you, simply say, “I understand that you disagree, but I guess we see it differently.”
9. Do recognize that each person is responsible for his or her own behavior. Don’t blame your Dad’s new wife because she “won’t let him” be close to you. If you are angry about the distance between you and your Dad, it’s your responsibility to find a new way to approach the situation. Your Dad’s behavior is his responsibility, not his wife’s.
10. Don’t tell another person what she or he thinks or feels or “should” think or feel. If another person gets angry in reaction to a change you make, don’t criticize their feelings or tell them they have no right to be angry. Better to say,“I understand that you’re angry, and if I were in your shoes, perhaps I’d be angry, too. But I’ve thought it over and this is my decision.” Remember that one person’s right to be angry does not mean that the other person is to blame.
11. Do try to avoid speaking through a third party. If you are angry with your brother’s behavior, don’t say, “I think my daughter felt terrible when you didn’t find the time to come to her school play. “ Instead try. “I was upset when you didn’t come. You’re important to me and I really wanted you to be there.”
12. Don’t expect change to come from hit-and-run confrontations. Change occurs slowly in close relationships. If you make even a small change, you will be tested many times to see if you “really mean it.” Don’t get discouraged if you fall on your face several times as you try to put theory into practice. You may find that you start out fine but then blow it when things heat up. Getting derailed is just part of the process, so be patient with yourself. You will have many opportunities to get back on track. . . . .and try again.


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