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How Scribbling Increases Imagination

The best thing about scribbling is that it not only boosts the imagination but it can also be a way to connect. I use these scribble activities to break the ice, build rapport, have a giggle, get my brains and hands warmed up and connect with others

So If you are a parent, teacher or you happen to be in possession of the family archives you are sure to be in ownership of a hefty amount of scribble artworks. We all know children scribble a lot. They get themselves through reams of paper and sometimes choose to delight you with some on on-the-wall versions. Scribbling is part of kinaesthetic development, meaning that it is a means of developing body awareness and awareness of movement. Kinaesthetic feedback is required to draw, write and engage in motor activities and tasks. Baghban, M (2007) also points out that scribbling development underpins a child’s ability to story tell. Drawing directly creates symbolic cues used for storytelling.  So next time you get handed yet another page of scribble, remember that the chaotic (and lovable) mess of lines is the building block of drawing and writing.

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Superheroes Get Sad Too

It is much less confronting to talk about superheroes or popular characters at least to begin with. Superheroes come in handy, they assist in talking and exploring strengths, difficulties and emotions

Lately I have been thinking a lot about Superheroes.  I have also spent a few too many hours down the rabbit hole of internet googling. I can now share that Batman’s biggest strength and also weakness is that he is human, ironman can heal his own armour and that elsatigirl stretches herself so much she is vulnerable to getting stuck in doors! My recent (and admittedly first) interest in superheroes makes a little more sense if I explain the title of  my recent art therapy workshop; “Superhero’s Get Sad too”. Since updating my knowledge of superheroes and sneaking in a few non-traditional (but  popular) characters  into the planned activities, I have been interested in why kids are so naturally apt at idolising fictional characters.

Without getting too technical; children’s social and emotional development is shaped somewhat by how they make sense of the world around them. Children use a mixture of imagination and observation to construct and explore their reality and to distinguish self and other. Continue reading Superheroes Get Sad Too

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Angry Volcano

Volcano’s are the perfect metaphor for anger, they bubble, spit and are scorching hot. Really the sky is the limit with this art activity but here is the basic method and some variations to get you bubbling (!)

It’s been a little while since I added an activity to the blog. But an angry volcano is a long time art activity favorite which I am very excited to share. An angry volcano can be crafted many different ways and can be adapted to make a big multi-stage art project or you can whip up the basic materials for a bit of instant fun. I have used this activity countless times in my Art Therapy practice, because it’s interactive and a great conversation starter about anger.

Angry Volcano

Really the sky is the limit with this art activity but here is the basic method and some variations to get you bubbling (!). Younger children may need some extra help, but it’s  suitable for any age. Continue reading Angry Volcano

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How the Heart and Brain Help us Heal

Understanding the relay race of our body and brain can help us understand eclectic processes of healing and direct us how to choose the type of therapy we need.

There is an amazing comic illustrator The Awkward Yeti who has designed human organs into characters and I must admit I find endless entertainment through the accuracy of their dialogue, particularly the characters Heart and Brain (find them here). While not entirely surprising, the subject of our biological organs is relevant to the way we psychologically heal. By understanding the process of healing and information processing through our biological mechanisms we can gain a better understanding of how eclectic approaches to therapy can work and where art therapy may fit. Rest assured if you’re not a human biology master, you’ll be fine to read on. This blog would cause a neurologist to cringe at my over-simplification and generous metaphors. Still, I think you’ll get the point and who doesn’t love a little metaphor!

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Does Art Really Heal?

Can art heal? My answer to one of art therapy’s biggest questions, flavoured with coconut water

As an art therapist I come across a whole range of claims, phrases and titles to do with my profession.  Sometimes I roll my eyes, sigh in frustration or giggle at bold promises. It is not that I am being disrespectful of other professionals it’s just that, well; it can be of a minefield in marketing at the best of times and it becomes even more so with things like art therapy. Why? Because art therapy is still a young practice in Australia and yet to gain mainstream familiarity. This ultimately means marketing has more weight because professionals aren’t only trying to advertise their brand or service but educate people about the profession as well. And the interesting thing is that marketing can influence how we answer questions before we have even had an experience. I find myself writing this article, an odd combination of art therapy and marketing to explore how people might be shaped to have an opinion of art therapy before they have even tried it. By considering how people consume something new we can begin to look at the answer to the question i hear a lot; does art really heal?

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A Companion to Loneliness

Loneliness is something we all feel at some point in our lives. Of course we all employ many techniques to drown it out; from jam packed social calendars, television marathons and social media updates to over drinking, eating or exercising. It is easy to get trapped in cycles of self-criticism and fruitless goals of perfectionism to drown out the pangs of loneliness. If only we were different: more pretty or handsome, smarter, successful, popular, wealthy or lucky then we would feel less lonely. But the truth is that loneliness comes with the territory, that is, it is part of the human condition.

While I may be able to speak candidly about the topic, I am far from exempt from the aversion commonly felt towards loneliness. Born as one of triplets, being alone was a foreign experience for me for a long time. I shared my mother’s womb with my two sisters, shared a room with either one of them my entire childhood and positioned myself in life to be around people I felt content with. Consequently I have never managed well alone. That is not to say that I can’t do things independently and alone, it is just that I feel my most comfortable and safe with someone I know in contactable proximity. For me being alone and lonely are closely intertwined but they are in fact different experiences. It is very possible to be alone and not lonely and to also be in company and feel lonely. Continue reading A Companion to Loneliness

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Understanding Art Therapy

If I had a gold coin for every time I got asked what art therapy was I would be a rich lady-or at least able to afford gold-class cinema tickets with an extra-large popcorn. So what exactly is art therapy and what can it offer?

Anyone who can recall the gleeful feeling of finger painting and creating messy concoctions of sand, ink and raw pasta as a child cannot deny that art making has a soothing quality that can be immersive and freeing. Like music, art making is an age old practice that has the power to unify people as well as foster emotional expression and offer a different means to tell a story. Art can also add significant richness to a therapeutic relationship and healing journey. Put simply art therapy is the use of art materials and making in a therapy-based setting. Art therapists are trained to use art-based processes to support common goals, including emotional expression, insight and the development of healthier coping strategies. Art therapy is suitable for people of all ages, demographics and abilities, who may or may not have art interest or experience.

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