Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The life of an art therapist


So, I am back again. I now have a 1 year old daughter (!!!) and another baby on the way! I have since left my previous job at the child and adolescent inpatient psych unit but have found myself working on an as needed basis for a much more diverse inpatient psych unit that has children, teen, dual diagnosis, mental health, and acute psych units as well as a recovery program. This means that my knowledge base continues to grow and I continue to learn how art therapy can help all populations.

In the coming months I have accepted a grant contracted position at an assisted living again, it has been about 3 years since I last worked with this population. This job has me actually doing an art therapy session with 6 pre-K students (about 4 to 5yo) and 6 residents of the assisted living and rehab community! I am VERY excited for this new opportunity as I feel like I miss this population so much! However, it has been quite a while since my tasks have been more about the process and the creation than about the message so I have actually come back to my own blog for some inspiration!

Any ideas that you have and would like to share I would honestly appreciate. I have some ideas of tasks such as creating snow globes and maybe a hand print wreath. Keep in mind the session is 1 hr long and this should include clean up too and that the individuals I will be working with have limited  focus and dexterity so the task should not have too much wait time (for glue or paint to dry, etc.) and nothing requiring exact fine motor skills. These sessions will also be taking place January through March so I think I would like the tasks to be winter/ early spring themed.

I am excited to be back here on this blog! Thanks for reading and welcome to my newest journey!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Art Therapy tasks- Groups, Anger, and Goals

Group Mural in a Round

Materials- Large paper that the entire group can work on at one time, marker/ oil pastels/ chalk pastels/ crayons

Directions- Have every member close their eyes and take a line for a walk letting it meander about in every which way. Encourage the group to reach out on the paper and stretch the line far and bring it back close. Have the group continue until the therapist says “stop”. The group should then use the line as a guide to create an image and to let the line be inspiration for an image. Once 30 minutes has passed or the group looks like it is slowing down have everyone stop, stand, and move one seat to the right and begin work on adding to the new image in front of them. After 5-10 minutes have the group stand and move again to the right. Continue this process until everyone is back at their original drawing. Process what it felt like to let others work on your drawing and how it felt to add to someone’s imagery. Also, look at and discuss if members drawings interact or if they maintain boundaries.

Feel like/ Can do (Anger)

Task from the book Something to Draw On by Carol Ross

Materials- Several sheets of white paper 11 x 14” for each person, markers/ oil pastels/ colored pencils.

Directions- Ask each member to represent an image of a time they felt extremely angry. After the group has processed each image, have the members create a second drawing reflecting how the incident made them feel or made them feel like doing. Remind the group that this is imaginary so there are no rules on what they can or cannot draw. Finally, following a discussion about appropriate ways to express anger, have the group draw a third picture depicting an acceptable way of handling anger.

Footsteps Toward Progress (2nd ed.)

Materials: Multiple colors of construction paper, markers, long piece of butcher paper for each participant, scissors, glue sticks.

Directions: Pt. to trace 3 sets of their own feet (6 feet total) onto construction paper and cut them out. At the top of the long butcher paper have the person write a goal. Next, using the glue stick, adhere the feet in a walking pattern onto the butcher paper. Write down 6 objectives towards reaching the goal at the top; one objective on each foot. Finally, have the individual draw an image of what it would feel like to reach their goal. Discuss why it is important to write about and discuss our goals. Talk about what steps are currently being taken to achieve these goals. Reference “104 Activities That Build” book for further discussion questions.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Art Therapy tasks for Children and Adolescents

Feelings Basketball

Materials- Ball, basket, empty face worksheet, emotions work sheet, markers.

Directions- Give each member a copy of the empty faces worksheet and the emotions worksheet. Have each member choose one emotion and in the empty faces sheet draw what they look like when they are feeling that emotion. Continue until all of the faces are full. Next, utilizing the now colored faces have each participant chose a face and act out the emotion while dribbling a basketball toward the hoop. The person with the ball cannot shoot the hoop until the emotion they are acting out is guessed by the audience.

Footsteps Toward Progress

Materials: Multiple colors of construction paper, markers, long piece of butcher paper for each participant, scissors, glue sticks.

Directions: Pt. to trace 3 sets of their own feet (6 feet total) onto construction paper and cut them out. Next, using the glue stick, adhere the feet in a walking pattern onto the butcher paper. Finally, write down 6 goals with one on each foot. Goals and can be for over the period of one year or lifetime goals. Discuss why it is important to write about and discuss our goals. Talk about what steps are currently being taken to achieve these goals. Reference “104 Activities That Build” book for further discussion questions.

Coping Thoughts Cards

Materials- 18x 24” thick poster board cut in half, markers, scissors, list of coping thoughts (This situation won’t last forever. I’ve already been through many other painful experiences, and I’ve survived. This too shall pass. etc.) and glue sticks.

Description- Open with a discussion about coping skills; what are some examples and
when/ why do we use them? Next, talk about what are coping thoughts. Have the group
come up with some examples and times that they may be appropriate. To begin the
project, offer each person a sheet of poster board. Explain that we will be making coping
thought cards so they have two options. One option is that they can cut the board into
6 equal cards now, write a coping thought on the back, and decorate them separately.
The second option is that they can create an abstract image on the large board and cut
the picture into 6 equal cards once they are finished. After the group is done cutting and
decorating, share which coping thoughts were chosen and have each member give an
example of when they personally may use that statement.

Monster Within/ Cause of Monster

Materials: Large paper at least 2 sheets per person, markers or paint sticks

Description: Ask the group to each create an image of the monster that lives within all
of us and owns all of the bad feelings and discuss what bad feelings those are. Once
finished, have each person share their image with the group explaining what feelings that
monster has. Next have each member create an image of one cause of the anger monster.
Once finished have the group share their drawings and discuss or describe the image and
talk about things in the image the pt. would like to change.

Inspirational Artist Trading Cards

Media- Paper, markers, glitter glue, paint sticks

Directions- Ask each member of the group to create an image of their best moment.
Encourage the use of color and shapes with limited imagery. Once everyone has finished
their image, ask the group to share what they have created.
Next, have the group cut their images into 6 equally sized cards. On the back of each
of the cards, have the group write down their favorite saying, quote, poem, etc. After
everyone has written something down on the back of each card, have the group trade with
one another until each member has a card from everyone.

Relaxation Meditation

Materials- watercolors, 11x 14” paper with outline of body, meditation reading, mats.

Description- Have each member of the group take a mat to lay on and spread out around
the room.
Read the meditation provided in the Stress Reduction Workbook for Teens activity 21, or any other guided meditation.
Once the meditation has ended, provide each member of the group with watercolors and
the body outline.
Ask the group to use the water colors in order to depict what color their breath is as it
enters and exits the body. Discuss where tension is held and felt in the body and what
color is it.

Extension- Provide group with a second body outline and ask them to create a body at
peace. What does that look like? How does it differ from the initial painting?

Anger Expression

Create an image of your anger using a large piece of paper and markers. Use your body/
be expressive.
Discuss what events make you feel this way? How do you feel physically or emotionally?
Next step- tear up the image.
Discuss how it makes you feel to do this to your image and destroy this emotion.

Time extender- Use the pieces of the torn image to create a new picture by gluing them
onto a new piece of paper. Think about expressing your anger in a new way. What are
some examples of how you could appropriately express your anger?

Anger Monster/ Warm Fuzzy Creature

Materials: Large paper at least 2 per person, markers or paint sticks, pre- drawn thought
bubbles, talking bubbles, and heart shapes for each member of the group.

Description: Ask each member of the group to create an image of an anger monster. Once
finished, give each participant a thought bubble and have them write inside what the
monster is thinking; a talking bubble to write what the monster would say, and a heart
to write what the monster would be feelings. After sharing the finished image with the
group, repeat the process asking the group t o draw an image of a warm fuzzy creature
that holds love.

House of Emotions

Materials- Markers, 11x 14” paper, The Guest House poem from the Stress Reduction
Workbook for Teens activity 24, lined paper.

Description- Read the poem to the group and discuss how and why we should be open to
feeling all emotions both negative and positive. After the discussion, have each member
draw an image of the outside of their own “guest house for emotions” and share. Next,
have each member create a cut away view of the inside of their house and create a room
for each emotion they are currently experiencing. Discuss what is making them feel these
emotions, and the size/ space each emotion is taking up within them. Finally have the
group write a poem/ story/ or letter to regarding this house. Read the letters out loud.

The Trouble Tree

Materials- The story of The Trouble Tree, large piece of paper, markers, foam shapes

Directions- Read the story to the group, ask the members of the group to draw their own
trouble tree. Next make small tokens out of foam shapes and ask the group to write their
troubles onto the shapes and put them into the tree. Once everyone has finished, discuss
if they feel any better having written down and externalized their troubles. Are there any
troubles that might disappear on their own versus ones that require dealing with?

Extension- ask the participants to chose one trouble and draw an image of the trouble or
what life would look like once that trouble has been resolved.

(Month, Week, Day) in Review Right and Wrong

Materials- Markers, 18” x 24” paper

Description- Ask pt. why it would be important to review what good things and what bad
things (right or wrong) happened over a past time period. What might be learned? Next
have the group fold the large paper in half and label one side Right (good) and Wrong
(bad). Ask the group to write 3 things that went right over the specified time period and 3
things that went wrong. Of those 3 on each side, the participant is to pick 1 on each side
to draw an image of to describe the event.

Time extender- Turn over the paper and write or draw one goal to be achieved in the
upcoming specified time period and 3 steps toward achievement.

How I Feel/ How I Act/ What I Need

Age- 13+

Medium- markers, 11x 14” paper

Directions- Each member of the group gets one sheet of paper to fold into 3. At the top of
the first section have the group label “How I Feel”. Begin with the group listing a number
of emotions that they have felt in the past month (at least 3). Once completed, move on
to the second section and label it “How I Act”. Have the group describe for each emotion
how they act or how others would know they are feeling that way. Lastly, label the third
section “What I Need” and have the group write what they need from others when they
are feeling each emotion. Do they need people to stay away, give them a hug, or just
listen? Discuss what everyone has written. Next, have each member chose one emotion
to draw a picture of or something that makes them feel that certain way. Process the

Adjective Goals

Media: Markers and 11x 14” paper.

Description: Have the group think about a goal they want to accomplish and draw a
picture of that goal. Next, ask the group to think of three words to describe how they
would feel once they accomplished that goal. Write down those words on the top,
bottom, or back of the drawing. Finally, ask the group to think of activities that they
currently participate in which make them feel those same feelings. Have the group draw a
picture of one of those activities. The goal is to show the group that they can feel similar
emotions (thus accomplishing the dream goal) without having to have the experience.

Stress/ Calm Two- Sided Mandala

Materials: Cardboard mandala, tissue paper, modge podge (or watered down glue),
construction paper in various colors, scissors.

Directions: hand each member a mandala and explain that one side will represent the
stressors in our lives while the other will represent calm and how we combat those
stressors. Beginning with the stress side ask the group to pick colors that represent stress
to them and decorate that side with the tissue paper/ modge podge in those stress colors.
Next choose a single stress color from the construction paper, cut into 1- 2” strips, and
write down what stressors are currently in your life. Once finished, flip the mandala to
the blank side and repeat the process reflecting calm in your life, what colors represent
calmness to you? Once finished decorating with tissue paper, choose a calm color from
the construction paper, cut into strips, and write down activities that can be done in order
to combat the stressors. Finally, tape a small piece of string on the top in order to hang
up. Process with the group.

Self Care Box

Materials- Small cardboard box, foam letters, glitter glue, tissue paper, watered down
glue, list of positive affirmations.

Directions- Instruct the group to decorate the box with the thought that this will be their
special box to keep trinkets and small items of importance. Once the group has finished
decorating their box read some examples of positive affirmations. Ask the group if
they had ever heard of positive affirmations and if they use any of their own. Give each
participant a list of positive affirmations to chose from/ get inspiration from. Have each
member cut out positive affirmations related to self and put into box (either fold up and
put in, or modge podge affirmations into interior of box).

Need, Have, Give, Trash collage

Fold paper into 4 sections, fill one with items, feelings, and words that you need, fill
another with items, feelings, and words that you already have, fill the third with skills,
talents, and feelings that you can give to others, and fill the last with feelings and words
that you don’t want to have any more or want to forget.

Materials- Large paper, markers, magazines, scissors, glue stick.

Mandala- Color/Emotion match

Ages- Adolescent

Activity required group to draw inside a mandala using markers- drawing could be
simply shapes or a picture. Once finished, the group was asked to identify three (3)
colors and label them with an emotion. Process the mandala imagary before continuing
on to color/emotion matching. Discuss a time when each member of the group felt their
identified emotion and/or why that color represents that emotion.

Leisure Activities Daisy Chain

Ages- Children

Description- Cut 8”- 12” strips of red, yellow, and blue paper. Give each member of
the group 2 (or more) strips of each color. Ask the group to write on each strip a leisure
activity that they can do by themselves or with others when they are-
Red = Angry
Blue = Sad
Yellow = Happy
(Add colors as you see fit)
Once the group has completed the writing portion, have the members work together to
chain all of the strips together by taping the paper closed around the previous link.

Group Story In A Round and Picture

Media: Large piece of paper for each group member, markers

Goal: Team building, increase creative thinking

Directions: Go around the group and have each person tell a made up story. The group
leader or therapist has the right to stop the person talking whenever they chose. Once a
group member has been stopped, the next person in the circle has to pick up where the
previous person left off. This process continues until everyone has added at least one
bit to the story. The therapist should write down the story as it is told and should also
encourage the group toward a beginning, middle, and end to make it a complete story.
Once finished, the therapist should read back the story to the group and ask if there
should be any changes made. Finally, ask each of the group members to create an image
of the story as they perceived it. Follow up with a discussion about what character they
view themselves as and who are the other characters in their life? How did they feel about
not having control over where the story went?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New Beginnings

Hello All!

I realize it has been several months since my last post and for that I apologize. I have recently been reading more and more blogs out there and have been inspired to pick back up where I had left off. I am in a new job that is working with kids on a psychiatric unit so my art therapy tasks are geared in a bit of a different direction that you may have been used to but as I have stated before this blog is to be used as a point of inspiration- so take these tasks and make them work for you!

In the future I hope to be including more photos of the work as an example. It can be difficult at times to snap a photo of the art while I am at work but I think it would really enhance the site so I will try my darn-est.

So consider this post my new beginning and look forward to an overview of some of the recent art therapy tasks I have been doing and thanks for putting up with my absences!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

September and October Art Therapy Tasks

Calming Your Nerves
While playing meditative music have each member of the group create a water color image. Once finished, everyone cuts their image into strips. Rearrange the strips of paper to create an entirely new image. Strips can be laid side by side or woven together.

Walking Through the Valley
Have the group create an image of a valley with a mountain top on either side of the valley. Discuss what one low point in life was and have the group write or draw an image within the valley. Next, have each member come up with two high points in life. Discuss which was more difficult to come up with- the low points or the high points. Often we will find that low points are unfortunately more easily remembered. Also, discuss if it were possible to build a bridge over the low point would you do that in order to never have experienced that challenge? OR was there something to be learned from by going through that tough event?

Pacific Art
Show examples to the group of Pacific Native American art including totem pole animals. Notice the tendency toward symmetrical animal shapes. Next, pass out 11 x 14" paper to each member and have the group fold the paper in half (hamburger ways). Squeeze black paint on one half of the paper. Fold the paper again and smooth. Open the paper to reveal the symmetrical monoprint that has been created. Have group members turn the paper in all directions in order to find recognizable imagery. Once the paint has dried use markers in order to bring out the discovered imagery.

Four Seasons Mandala
Begin the group with a discussion of the four seasons. Talk about how one recognizes the new season and what activities can be done during each season. Hand each member a piece of paper that has a large circle drawn in the center of the page. Encourage the group to create an image of the four seasons-participants may create four equal sections on the circle, or may draw images from each four season all together. Task helps members reminisce about the past as well as orient in reality.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

August Art Therapy Techniques

I cannot believe August is already a full week behind us! These are the tasks that I did in the wonderfully warm month of August.

Relaxation Task
Materials- Large table size piece of paper the entire group can reach/ use and markers.
Description- Begin by asked the group to pick a favorite color of marker. Next, have everyone in the group make big circles or shapes using their whole arm/ body and then instruct the group to make tiny scribbles using just the fingers and wrists to move the marker. Switch back and forth enough times to thoroughly loosen up the body and mind. Once the paper is full of scribble and color have the group put down their markers and listen to a guided meditation. Have the group relax their muscles one by one, and eventually lead the group to envision themselves as a tree rooted to the ground. Upon finishing the guided meditation, ask the group to look at the scribble in front of them. Encourage each member to recreate their self- tree within the scribble. Once everyone has finished drawing their tree, discuss each persons personal tree- how old is it, where is it located, is it alone or with other trees? Finally talk about the possibility of the tree as a personal metaphor.

Anchor Art
Materials- Pre-cut anchor shapes, markers, hole punch, ribbon or yarn.
Description- Ask the question of what an anchor does. Next, find out if the group can relate to the idea of an anchor- for instance what anchors you? And where do you get your strength from? Have each member draw or write their answers within the pre-cut anchor shape. Have the group share, and discuss each members responses. Talk about new places members may find strength from or how to strengthen weak anchors.

Experience Nature Prints
Materials- Leaves, pine cones, potatoes, apples, heavy paper, acrylic paints
Description- Cut apples and potatoes into slices to use as stamps, lay out out leaves, sticks, and pine cones in the center of the table. Ask the group participants to use the materials to create an image or just play!

Monday, July 19, 2010

July Art Therapy Techniques

This month the theme is Washington D.C. and just American patriotism in general.

Believe in Yourself
This task is focused more on the discussion than the art. The main question for your group is what is something they never thought they could do, but eventually conquered. Some things include fearing public speaking but getting out and being in a play, or fearing yet eventually finishing higher education. Have the group create an image representing their conquest or try drawing the emotions felt from being fearful of the event to the joyful feelings once having completed the event.
There are many poems relating to this topic so it may be creatively beneficial to read a poem during the art making process.

Patriotic Moments
For this technique I used a spin art machine because it creates print that look like fireworks and one large piece of water color paper. Have each member of the group created one or two pieces of spin art. As each piece of spin art is completed turn them ink side down on the large piece of paper to create a print. Once all of the prints have been made you have just created your own group firework display. This can begin the discussion of patriotic memories. Where there any special firework displays, parades or family picnics that the group members can recall?

Proud to be an American
This task was done in November as part of Veterans Day
Materials: One piece of 18" x 24" construction paper, one blue square 5" x 5" or so, 6 strips of 24" white paper, 7 strips of 24" red paper, white glitter, markers, glue sticks.
Description: Each individual in the group gets at least one strip of paper. On the paper have the group write down what it means to them to be an American. Discuss the answers that come up. Collect the strips of paper and paste onto the flag. Complete by pasting the blue square in the upper left corner and adding glitter to represent the stars in the flag.