************************************Denial covers the pain of the past * A blanket over the world * Lift a corner * Don't be afraid * Your life awaits you*************************************

Friday, June 26, 2009

Art Therapy

Yesterday I was talking to my daughter about the drawings I do after our sessions and she had an insight as to why they are so helpful to me.

It's kind of a family joke around here that I don't do very well with metaphors. Most people assume because I write and paint that I am good with non-concrete thought, but I really am not. All those expressions that you are supposed to just know what
they mean, like don't burn your bridges behind you or don't put all your eggs in one basket, I just don't get them. I see an image of someone burning a bridge or a lot of broken eggs and I can see how that wouldn't be good, but I don't just make the leap from that to whatever situation it is supposed to apply to.

It was something I first noticed in high school Honors English, probably about my sophomore year. Everyone would read a book and then come in saying the book MEANT all these other things that it never said. I just never saw it that way. Even so, when I write, I am able to create metaphors that make sense to me and to others.

When I get home from a particularly puzzling session with my therapist, the images are in my head before I put the first line on paper. I can see a direct connection between them and whatever concept I am trying to grasp. Even so, until I do the drawing (or sometimes several drawings) I can’t hold onto the concept.

I have since learned that there are people who practice “art therapy”. I don’t know much about this, but it seems to indicate that I am not the only one who has this problem with making the leap between what is said in therapy, and really knowing it.

Here are a few drawings I did after particularly stressful appointments. I would love to know how others interpret them.


  1. i'm not sure what your drawings signify, but the first thing i thought is that it looks like there's a theme of a voice feeling silenced, "locked away", "stepped on", and then that voice wanting to break free. that may not be right at all, it's just my first reaction.

    i think that talk therapy is wonderful but certainly has it's limitations. i think through art, music, play, movement, touch and other methods, we can achieve connections to deep locked away parts of ourselves. especially since trauma isn't usually a verbal experience, it occurs on so many levels. not to mention the various ages we might have experienced traumas, some of them might have been preverbal.

    i never thought i was "good" at drawing, and so never really did much of it. but when i started trying to use art as therapy, there have been experiences where i have literally remembered something i had not at all remembered consciously before i made the drawing. or made a connection i hadn't realized before. it's a powerful therapeutic tool.

    that's wonderful that you have found that drawings help you connect to your work in therapy.

  2. Mountainmama, you use art as well... I would love to see some of it.

    You are extremely on target with the idea of "a silenced voice" as a running theme. I think that is in several of the drawings.

    Thank you for reading and for your insights.

  3. This is really wonderful, Shen. Art is such a wonderful way to express yourself and can be incredibly helpful in your healing.

    I see all your art is computer generated. I wonder if you would like to try simple drawing with pencils, paints, etc. rather than just with the computer?


  4. Paul, yes, these are all computer generated, although they all come from hand drawn images that I rework in photoshop.

    I also do a lot of drawing and some painting I used to concentrate only on painting, but for therapy-drawings I find hand drawing more useful. Photoshop is great because I can reuse images. I have done paintings on canvas of some of my favorite pieces, but these are, of course, harder to post here.

    Thanks for reading. I think you also have done some art therapy?

  5. I too came away with you being locked away and a key is always in arms reach, but you are never able to retrieve it.

  6. on image 5, i hadn't thought of this, but my partner took one look at that image and immediately said that perhaps you feel like a doormat?

    thanks for saying you'd like to see some of my drawings. i will consider posting something. it's all pretty vulnerable for me, so i might not. but if i decide to do so, i'll let you know. :)

  7. Just be Real, thank you for the feedback. I think that is a part of what I've been feeling.

    Mountainmama, it is supposed to be about feeling used, taken advantage of - like a doormat.

    I completely understand that your artwork is very personal. Mine is as well. It is hard to feel safe sharing it at times, but I feel rather anonymous here, so it makes it somewhat easier.

    I have sent all of these (and many more) to my therapist and sometimes she gives me feedback, ask well, which is very helpful.

    There is a strong sense of not knowing which way to go, fear of making the wrong choice in the ones with the keys.

    The hammer drawings (I have several others) are about anger - either feeling it, acknowledging it or trying to let it go.

    The silent scream is another common thread throughout my artwork. It feels like it's about not feeling like I had a voice, not feeling like I could say what I needed to say, or be heard. They are about fear, secets and shame.

    I also have a lot of drawings that are about the inner child and the inner "spirit" or "adult self" and how one is affecting the other.

    I really appreciate all the input. I was debating about going back and adding the titles to the pieces now that a few people have seen them without.


Please feel free to leave your thoughts in a comment.

Co Creation

Co Creation
We create the life we live

Love your inner child...

...for she holds the key...

...to your personal power.
A lesson is woven into each day.
Together they make up the tapestries of our lives.