I had a wonderful time facilitating my first group art therapy session with the Aboriginal Sobriety Group this week.
Art therapy work is so inspiring and rewarding. Making connections with others and encouraging them to find meaning and purpose in their lives through self-reflection, and then to share this with the rest of the group takes courage.
For me, this day marked the beginning of my career as an Art Therapist. This new phase of my life brings together my years of teaching, my lived experience with domestic violence and addiction, my Art Therapy study, and it aligns perfectly with my purpose to help others.
I truly believe that everything in life happens for a reason. I kind of fell into Art Therapy for my own healing and recovery. The ability painting had to process, express and release so many emotions was powerful and transformative for me, and I knew it could help others too.
It wasn't always easy to let go of my self-belief and the belief of others that I should go back to teaching in a classroom. That I shouldn't let what happened to me destroy my career. But I am different now. I am changed. I have a different purpose. I have learnt many lessons, the best of which are the things I have learnt about myself. I have symptoms of trauma that need to be managed. And so I manage them. I am creating an authentic life that is so full of possibilities, and it is incredibly exciting!
Clients will use a tree as a metaphor to tell stories about their lives. This activity can help to strengthen relationships with our own history, culture and the people in our lives. It will allow us to ‘see’ each other, share part of ourselves, and build connections for future work in a safe environment. When finished we can join our trees in a display that signifies connection and support of one another.
Paper (white and coloured)
Coloured markers, pencils and crayons
Clients will think about the following things that have meaning in their lives, and using the provided template, they can make notes for each part of their tree.
My roots: where do I come from, who is my family, where did I go to school, who has taught me, my favourite place, memory, song, or story of meaning.
The ground: think about my present life. Is it stable or always changing? Is it flat or bumpy? Grassy or rocky?
The trunk: what makes me who I am? My skills, my personality, my likes, what am I good at? What are my values?
The branches: what are the hopes for my life? My dreams for the future, visions and wishes. What do I want for myself and my loved ones?
The leaves: who are the significant people in my life?
The fruit: what gifts have been given to me by others? These could be material gifts, a shoulder to cry on, support, love or help.
Instructions: (instructions are always fluid and allow for clients to evolve and create in ways that they choose)
1. Choose a coloured paper for the ground, tear or cut it to represent where you are in your life right now. Is it stable or always changing? Flat or wavy? Glue at the bottom of your page.
2. Draw a trunk and the branches of your tree.
3. Draw or tear paper to add the roots to your tree.
4. Write in all the details from your notes onto the trunk, branches and roots.
5. Tear or cut paper to add the fruit.
6. Decorate with patterns, lines and colour.
7. Add your name across the picture.
Thank you to my clients who gave permission to use photographs.