Life can be messy and sometimes we feel like WE are a mess. We reach a point where we want to clean up the mess and get a fresh start but don’t really know how. If that’s the case, maybe it’s time to step back and see your life through a new lens, a creative lens. Can you remember as a child how easy and effortless it was to make art? But then, maybe in school, someone told you that your art wasn’t good enough or you compared yours to theirs and became discouraged? You stopped making art; being creative. It happens and I’m so sorry. However, we were made by the Master Artist in His image to be a creator of things. Not everyone knows that, and not everyone believes that, but let me illustrate what I have seen through working with others as an Art Therapist.
Throughout our lives, many of us become stuck in a circle of repetitive behaviors where we experience the same consequences, the same results. That’s exhausting. The cycle continues because we often don’t know where to turn or what to do. Familiar behaviors are comfortable and safe. I see this every day when bringing art therapy into residential treatment facilities where individuals are undergoing treatment for addictions. When I introduce the concept of creating art from where they are, based on what they are experiencing right in that moment, it’s a novel idea. Often I will get initial resistance or a response like, “You want us to do what?” They resist the unfamiliar, doing something outside of their normal patterns of behavior. I assure them that they do not have to be an artist or even like art, it doesn’t have to look like anything specific, I just want them to begin making lines and shapes with color… no judgement… there is no right or wrong way to do this, they just need to start. It can be a safe way to explore new thoughts, new experiences, new ways of thinking.
As a Mental Health Professional, I have the blessing of bringing this new perspective to my clients. I approach my work from a prayerful place, looking at all of my clients as amazing individuals who already have what they need to move forward successfully in their lives. Some of them are stuck, needing gentle reminders of the strength inside of themselves. Some need more time with creative self-expression to explore their life circumstances; to find new ways of understanding. During this time of discovery, I often hear clients say they forgot how much they enjoy art making, or they haven’t done anything like this since grade school. Through our encouraging therapeutic relationship they have permission to explore. Through the process of making art there is a release of energy, a relief when light has been shed on darkness and the image is out on paper. The art piece itself becomes a reveal of the subconscious. The client begins to trust the process when there is a phenomenon of flow as time passes quickly. A fresh perspective is revealed in their art work. When a client is able to externalize pain, they are allowing themselves to be open for God to do the healing work inside of them, releasing a destructive cycle in order for them to move forward.
Movement is the key. As we explore a new direction, a new way of thinking, we may occasionally find ourselves falling back into old patterns of behavior. That’s okay. Even if you move back a couple steps, it’s still movement. If the behavior is familiar to you, but no longer comfortable, then you have information to make new choices. It takes action or movement to get better. Being stuck is the problem. Keep moving!
-Lisa Lounsbury, Executive Director of Art Lab Rx