49 – Art Therapy: Uncover and Utilize your Strengths with Jess Winnicki
written by Jessica Winnicki (Social Work / Art Therapy) on 31/07/20
In this podcast we will explore Art Therapy and how it can support us on our journeys. We will examine the role of the art in the healing journey, the concept of resource art / art as a resource, and the power of the use of metaphor. To end the podcast I will invite you to engage in an art directive, one which Julie and I will each complete and will process at the end of this podcast. My hope for this podcast is to shine a light on art therapy, explain how it can support us on our journeys, and give a tangible take away in a directive for those of you tuning in.
Role of the Art
When I think about the role of the art two things come to mind: intentional spontaneous art therapy and art therapy directives. Intentional spontaneous art therapy is the concept of working with the art freely and in the moment. It may emerge from themes and ideas from the previous session or whatever is coming up in the moment as determined by the client-artist. Carpendale (2009) describes spontaneous art therapy as “creating whatever you like, express how it feels to be you” (p.84).
Allowing free creation in the moment gives individuals an opportunity to express their emotions in new, immediate, and transformative ways.
The arts have the ability to transform consciousness, it is through the art that cognitive awareness and emotions can be brought to the surface and in some cases processed in a way that engages people in a new and powerful ways.
“Resources are like assets – the more you have, the better off you are” (Rothschild, 2003a, p. 19, as cited in Finlay 2016). Resources and in particular resource art is something created by the client-artists that actively contributes to their own self-healing. Finlay (2016) discusses how we as human beings can at times lose sight of life-enhancing choices that give meaning to our lives. “When we are depressed, for instance, our world shrinks inwards, becomes gloomy and dark; we become stuck, lose will and hope. But deep within we retain the potential to find and use our own strengths” (Finlay, 2016, p. 76).
Art is empowering and can empower client-artists to modify their way of being, this is the power of resource art.
The process of creating art is an inherently resourceful process due to the experience of creating in the moment. Creating involves resources such as the use of our senses, self exploration, play, and possibilities of creating new stories. Creating art is a collaboration of the imagination and the various senses as they entice one another to bring something new into the world and within the creator of the art (Richardson, 2016, p. 49).
Use of Metaphor
Our understanding about ourselves and the world around us comes from our language as well as our previous life experiences. Making meaning of our experiences comes to us through language and our personal perceptions. “When language informs perception, we get convention or conventional creativity and when perception informs language we get invention and innovative creativity” (Carpendale, 2009, p.22). When creating art and being engaged in the creative process the goal is to set aside our conventional understanding and to gain a new perspective. (Carpendale, 2009, p.22).
Metaphoric questions can be very powerful during the therapeutic process and while looking at the art. These are questions that provoke responses regarding the underlying metaphors, the emotion, and the relationship between elements or aspects in the art (Carpendale, 2009, p. 46). When we ask these types of questions we start to explore the feelings and associations expressed in the art. When we are trying to describe a new feeling, idea, or even creature in our art we turn to metaphor to help us explain this phenomena that we are faced with. Metaphor is not language but an idea that is expressed by language, when we use metaphor we are often using certain words but meaning something entirely different.
With all of what we have discussed around the role of the art in the healing journey, the concept of resource art / art as a resource, and the power of the use of metaphor I invite you to sit with the information as well as see what comes up for you as I introduce 2 options for art making.
Warning: If you are feeling in a place today that creating may be too evocative I encourage you to listen to the innate wisdom of your body and your intuition and simply continue to listen, coming back and creating when you feel called, without judgement but instead gratitude for the ability to tune into ones internal voice.
Two invitations for today:
- spontaneously create whatever you like, any thoughts and feelings that are coming up for you in this moment and in this space.
- using a weather metaphor create how you are currently feeling and/or what weather you are working towards experiencing.
Thank you for listening and being open to the process of art therapy. If you have any questions please do no hesitate to contact me.
This is a time of change, stretching edges, uncomfortable feelings, and growth.
Remember that everyday is a process and we bring different versions of ourselves to each day / moment of the day.
Be gentle with yourself, strive for effort and intention as opposed to perfection.
Carpendale, M. (2011). A Traveler’s Guide to Art Therapy Supervision.
Victoria, BC: Trafford Publishing.
Eisner, E. W. (2002). The Arts and the Creation of Mind.
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Finlay, L. (2016). Relational Integrative Psychotherapy: Engaging Process and Theory in Practice.
Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Richardson, C. (2015). Expressive Arts Therapy for Traumatized Children and Adolescents: A Four-Phase Model.
London, England: Routledge.