art therapy

The Artist’s Way…a way to seriously change your life!!!!

The Artist’s Way has been a best-selling book for the past 25 years. This book offers readers an opportunity to walk through a twelve week process (one chapter per week) of breaking through creative blocks. Julia Cameron’s recipe is simple, stick with two non-negotiable tasks: writing “morning pages” (daily journal entry of three full hand written pages), and take oneself on a weekly “artist’s date,” while reading this book. Each chapter forces readers to explore the uncomfortable “stuff” that holds us back from being our best selves.

Having led many Artist’s Way groups as an art therapist, I can attest to the remarkable power of transformation this book offers to participants. Cameron’s ideas are so gentle, yet powerful, it is impossible to not change if you really do the full twelve week process. I have personally had massive, personal transformations while engaging in the exercises in this book, and watched participants experience intense and profound change while walking through it.

As an art therapist, I have read many, many books on creativity, change and transformation, but few are as thorough as The Artist’s Way. Although Cameron is not a therapist herself, her book reads as a therapeutic journey of exploration, and really offers an opportunity for people to become their own therapist.

Please click on image of book above to purchase this book on Amazon.

 

 

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Amazing Kwik Stix solid tempera paint and Art Therapy

 

This art therapy blog will begin to review some art products. Today’s feature are the amazing Kwik Stix. Don’t be fooled by the small child featured on the packaging, these amazing paint sticks are the perfect medium for all age groups. The colors are vibrant, and the process is neat, dry and simply perfect.

As an art therapist, finding a medium that is age appropriate, respectful, and perfect for a person’s motor skills is essential to the work we do. The perfect medium can serve as a conduit for helping a person truly express themselves. I have been using this for people with dementia, and found they are powerful because of the vibrant color, ease of use, and smooth application onto paper. I have also used them with teens, adults, small children and large art therapy groups with equally impressive results. For more details or to order, please clic on the link above.

Suicide Prevention Hotlines: Please Reach Out for Help

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National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Twitter Lifeline: @800273TALK

Instagram: 800273TALK

Facebook: 800273TALK

If you are reading this, you might be in a crisis. If you are reading this, you might be digging around the internet looking for a sign or message to reconsider self harm, or a reminder that self harm is not the only option for yourself. What else can you do? Please consider reaching out to one of the above numbers. Please consider reaching out to someone who loves you, or someone who is looking out for you (a teacher, a coworker, a neighbor, etc). When we get into the state of mind where suicide or self harm feel like the only option, our brains are not functioning at their full capacity. How do I know this? I worked in inpatient psychiatric places for many, many years, and watched thousands of people wake up from a suicide attempt so grateful for a second chance.

Please take a moment to consider your experience from a different perspective. What might the younger version of yourself say about your situation? What kind of advice could your older self from the future give to you about what you might be experiencing now. It might be helpful to write this in the form of a letter to yourself, or a video to yourself. Please consider calling the above numbers if you feel you are in danger.

 

The Grump Meter- a tool for anger management

Unknown-2We are living in grumpy times. Perhaps it was reality television that ushered in this era of acceptable high drama., or the daily stress of 21st century living.  News feeds offer no shortage of daily occurrences of people behaving badly in public places, and to one another. As an art therapist working in the trenches of the mental health field, most of the clientele I work with come to therapy with anger as their primary problem.

One of the very best tools I offer my clientele for anger management is called The Grump Meter. This tool was developed by  Dr. Janet and Lynn Kaufman,  a mother daughter team of social workers. After working for years in the “system” with foster kids, high conflict families, and residential treatment facilities for kids and teens, this beautiful tool was created. The Grump Meter is a color coded chart to identify emotions, and help people self regulate to prevent explosive behavior. The grump meter’s  formula is:

  • Red          Explode
  • Orange    Stop
  • Yellow     Caution
  • Green      Grumpy
  • Blue         Calm

The simplicity of this tool can offer rapid transformation in high conflict families, classrooms, schools and even work settings. Reducing communication down to one word and one color serves as a profound way to enhance communication, and prevent explosive, out of control situations. How? For people who escalate quickly, reducing their wide array of feelings/behavior down to one color or word can serve as an effective way to communicate to others,  For people who have a difficult time expressing themselves, identifying their hidden emotions with one word or color offers a platform for self expression.

I have observed families quickly alter their dysfunctional systems  when they incorporate The Grump Meter  into their lives. When a family member can say something like, “Mom, I am on yellow,”  family members can respond, and aid the person in self regulating, and/or offering them the emotional support they need to not spiral out of control. Offering people a space to express their emotions, rather than just shutting them down is an empowering and respectful way teach self regulation and emotional intelligence.

I have worked with  literally thousands of people in inpatient psychiatric facilities over the years. In intake interviews, I often ask, “if you would have been able to share with someone what you were really feeling, would you have ended up in this crisis?” People almost ALWAYS share that communicating what they were feeling to a loved one would have prevented their crisis (in the United States, suicidal or homicidal behavior usually precedes admission to inpatient psychiatric facilities).

If you decide to use this tool, it is best to have participants make and decorate their own grump meters using paper and markers, colored pencils or paint. When several grump meters get hung up in a home, classroom or office, the idea gets reinforced as a the tool for communicating complex emotions. As participants make their own grump meter, asking what they can do to calm themselves down at each color is helpful for cultivating self regulation. People often think this is a tool just for children, but  is it often the adults who are really in need of grump meters!

For more information on The Grump Meter, books, workbooks and additional ideas, please follow this link: http://www.thegrumpmeter.com.