“Art can permeate the very deepest part of us, where no words exist.”
― Eileen Miller
“I see art-making as a way to tell me where I am in my own life story.”
I use creative/expressive arts in my counseling and psychotherapy. If you search the internet, you will see that the creative arts and expressive arts are used interchangeably or you will find different definitions and differences depending on the article you read.
In her article, "Creative Arts and Expressive Arts," Dr. Malchiodi defines the creative arts and expressive arts as, "Art, music, dance, drama, and poetry therapies are referred to as “creative arts therapies” because of their roots in the arts and theories of creativity. These therapies and others that utilize self-expression in treatment are also called “expressive therapies” (Malchiodi, 2005; 2013; 2014).
How do you feel when you create? Creativity comes in many forms such as visual arts, visual journaling, painting, drawing, doodling, collage, or photography. For some, it might be in creative writing, journaling, or photography. For others, it can be the smooth flow of movement, dance, or the power of drama. I also know that for many of you it can be the simple, meditative art of organizing, reading, cooking, or baking. Yes!
I trained at the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society and they gave us the Tree of Contemplative Practices, which illustrates some of the many contemplative practices used by individuals, organizations, and in education. A blank Tree of Contemplative Practices was also provided to us to add our own contemplative practices. Just click the link to download.
The use of creative arts is about finding creative resources in your life that provide you with a moment of mindful contemplation provide a sense of peace and grounding. How do you feel when you create? Just send me a quick note. What are the modalities you use and why? Below you will find some of the creative modalities that I invite my clients to use in our work together.
“The arts are a critical component of healthcare. Expressive art is a tool to explore, develop and practice creativity as a means to wellness.”
"The things we know the best are the things we haven't been taught"
Luc de Clapiers
As a child, I really loved the idea of a notebook where I could write my thoughts about the day. I was eleven years old when someone gave me a 5-year diary, for years I was able to glimpse at the mind of my eleven-year-old self, and then I lost the journal. In it, I would write about the weather, what I ate, and what I did. My childhood experiences were full of stories about my cousins. We were a large family and we lived in the same building in the Bronx. We had so much fun. Later as an adolescent, my journals had deeper reflections on life, love, school, and whom I was becoming.
My journals held memories of wilted roses given by a friend, poems, newspaper clippings, dreams, and drawings. All of my love for the creative was reflected in all of my journals. Once I started making collages, the covers of my journals were the collages I made for each of them. In these journals, I continued to keep poems, snippets of a story, dialogue, my dreams, and of course images, drawings, paintings, and of course, the weight of my studies and the five years of my eventual doctorate. Yet, I never stop creating, writing or drawing.
The research literature shows that Journal is a beneficial self-care practice. Known as "journal therapy" when done in a therapeutic context it has been shown to enhance feelings of joy, provide clarity, reduce stress, clarifies thoughts and feelings, and you have an archive of your own personal journal, you get to know who you were and the journey of your own transformational process.
My interest in journaling culminated in the reading of Ira Progoff's book, At the Journal Workshop. He is the Godfather of the contemporary journal-writing movement. This book is the basic text and guide to the application of what he called the “intensive journal process.” Progof died in 1998, he was 77 years old.
I was a teenager when the book came out, but it made such an impression on me. I still have that book. Back then, I could not afford his workshops so, I bought a loose-leaf notebook and added different color pages to create the section and what I would call the Journal Workshop. I did the exercises imagining I was in the real workshop. To learn more about the Journal Workshop go to their website.
Later, my continued interest in journaling led me to take a course with Kathy Adams author of Journal to the Self: Twenty-Two Paths to Personal Growth - Open the Door to Self-Understanding by Writing, Reading, and Creating a Journal of Your Life Paperback – Illustrated, January 1, 1990
Reviews of this book note that Kathy Adams, "provides a powerful tool for better living--a step-by-step method to personal growth, creative expression, and career enhancement through journal writing."
Then a friend gifted me the Artist Way by Julia Cameron, and together we attended an Artist Way workshop with Julia, there were more than 400 New Yorkers at the venue, and everyone was so happy, loving, and kind. I highly recommend this book, "The Artist Way"
This book is now 31 years old, it celebrated its Artist Way 25th year with a new edition in 2016, but when it came out it made such an impression on me that I hosted an Artis Way group in my home. Since then, Julia Cameron has written many other inspiring books.
If you work with me, I will "invite" you to keep a journal practice. I recommend you buy a journal today. You may go through several different journal notebooks before you find your preference but start today. You can go here to these questions for your first journal entry.
THE VISUAL JOURNAL
THE VISUAL JOURNAL
Slowly, I noticed that my journaling became populated with images, drawings, and dreams. It was then that my visual journals were born, but I did not call them visual journals, they were just journals until later when I discovered that artists kept visual journals. Later, the book Visual Journaling by Barbara Ganim was published in 1999. Visual Journaling: Going Deeper than Words Paperback – October 1, 1999. Dr. Malchiodi is one of my incredible teachers, and she wrote a wonderful article on visual journaling as a reflective practice. Add drawing, painting, yours, or others to your journal and make a visual journal. You can also add quotes, a list of things you love, and what inspires you and brings you hope.
If there is one thing I love is to make books. Not only do I love making them, but I also love teaching others to make them. There are some great books on making hands-on books, I will name this one here to begin Making Handmade Books: 100+ Bindings, Structures & Forms Paperback – January 4, 2011
Reviews note, "Thanks to the 100 ideas in this volume, the craft is now available to everyone. In as little as an afternoon, beginners will be on their way to folding, gluing, and sewing handmade books in a variety of shapes and styles, from rolled scrolls to Jacobs ladders, folded flexagons to case bindings"
I often honor an experience by making a book. I shall share some of these here soon.
I have been creating collages for most of my life. I have seen the evolution of what I used to create to what I create now.
Dreams have been my guide to collage art making. I hope you can join me from time to time to share your night dreams and create images from their wisdom.
Anyone can create collages and gain wisdom from the intuitive process of collage making. Start today, collecting images that stir your heart. That's the begining.
I have been creating mixed media collages for some time before I was introduced to SoulCollage®. There was something so deeply healing in creating collages, multiple images that deeply resonated with my soul coming together to form a whole. A trusting intuitive process.
For me, the art process is a practice of self-compassion, faith, mindfulness, and healing. It is a time to pause and just be. I began to realize how the intuitive process that guided my collage-making suddenly transferred to other aspects of my life. It was enlightening and empowering.
The first time I heard about SoulCollage®, I was in an expressive arts workshop facilitated by Lucy Barbera who had a yearlong certificate in the creative arts for mental health practitioners. Artist and therapist Veronica Schauder mentioned SoulCollage®.
SoulCollage® was developed by Seena B. Frost, M.A., M.Div, a creative, intuitive collage process where each card represents an aspect of the self. Through prompts such as “I am the one who….”, I began the process of dialoguing with each card.
In SoulCollage® each card represents different aspects of the self, but also others, the community, family friends, nature, spirit animals and guides, archetypes, source and the transpersonal. A Soul Collage card is created on a 5X7 cardboard and enclosed in a plastic sleeve giving it a finished look as if it has been painted with clear acrylic.
On the back of the card on a 5X7 sheet of paper, I answer questions. such as:
"I am the one who...."
"My name is...."
"My gift to you is..."
"My light is...."
Once these questions or more are answered, the gift of the card remains there to remind me of what I need to learn or to know or to remember. Each image speaks to me from a deep place within my soul. I can draw one of my SoulCollage® cards to gain knowledge of what is need right now.
I took my first workshop in Princeton, and then in Woodstock and in Long Island, and finally in July 2020, I completed my facilitator training. SoulCollage® reminds me so much of Internal Family Systems (IFS), which is a non-pathologizing type of therapy that allows a client to explore their many parts in a gentle and compassionate way. In IFS therapy we remind the client that “All parts are welcome!”. In SoulCollage®. we befriend these parts with images and ritual.
IFS also reminds us that no matter what we have been through, we all possess Self, known by many names, Buddha Nature, Basic Goodness, our Wise Self. Richard Swartz, the founder of IFS notes that when we lead from "Self" Energy, we can get a distance from all of the different messages our parts carry. The Self utilizes what in IFS is referred to as the 8’C’s — Compassion, Curiosity, Calmness, Clarity, Courage, Connectedness, Confidence, Creativity. the Self is our soul essence.
In my introductory workshop, I will share what I have learned about creating SoulCollage®. cards and know you will be able to create your own. We will find images to represent parts of us and dialogue with them. Here “All parts are welcome!” just like all dreams are welcome. If interested just send me an email with the subject "SoulCollage" and I will add you to the interested list. To learn more about me go to linktree
I integrate expressive arts in my psychotherapy practice as a creative method to cope with life challenges and support your growth. Expressive arts therapies used vary depending on your needs, but they include therapeutic journaling, and writing, visual art journaling as well Bibliotherapy/Poetry therapy, a therapeutic modality that involves the reading of poetry, or a specific narrative or story with the purpose of growth and healing. I also provide clinical Bibliotherapy, the use of therapy books for therapeutic support, see events.
Julia Cameron, author of The Artists Way
“Writing is medicine. It’s an appropriate antidote to injury. It is an appropriate companion to any difficult change.” –