Mission Accomplished: Art Therapists Are the Experts!

An Art Therapist Explains Why Justin Bieber Needs Coloring Books

Yes! Mission accomplished!!!

My biggest complaint about the media and art therapy is that they need to interview art therapists as experts when art making is involved. Too often I see an article where a psychologist is looked upon as the expert to explain people’s pictures. They ain’t the experts. We are, and we need to be the first ones out there. We need to be on more talk shows and all the stuff the psychologists do, and we’re on the way to getting in people’s living rooms and in their Twitter and other feeds.

For me, that’s the goal; get the general population to know about the existence of art therapy, by all means necessary. That means television, magazines, newspapers, articles, Youtube, all social media.

Now that we have the best adult coloring book out there: The Real Art Therapists of NY Coloring Book (https://nycreativetherapists.com/real-art-therapists), we need it to be sold in airports and supermarkets, Walmart, Target, Whole Foods, Duane Reade!

So check out this article in Vice and read Nadia Jenefsky’s take on Justin Bieber coloring as well as what he colored and how.

As art therapists, we are trained to look at images and pictures, and we know how to translate and explain them. We are trained in understanding what makes people drawn to certain materials and images, verbal and non-verbal communication. We make our own images, and we get other people not just to make images but we invite people who haven’t touched paint or other materials since they were 5, to get back the joy of art making and get in touch with their creativity, whether it’s cooking, gardening, sports, writing, coloring, sky diving, etc. Art therapy is not just about making stuff in therapy. Art therapy is about creative environments, connecting with others…

That is what it is really about, connecting on small and large scale, so this article is at the forefront of raising awareness of Art Therapy and who the expert art therapists are!

Guidelines about Boundaries in THERAPY

This is my post for my Tuesday “words” post.

Finding a therapist that is a good fit is hugely helped by the internet. In addition, if you’re confused at any point about the therapy and your therapist’s boundaries, You can find a lot of top ten lists online about therapist’s boundary violations.

In fact, here is a great list of 30 things to watch out for in your relationship with your therapist. All are very good things to notice; a few things on the list are sometimes ok if you feel your therapist has your best interests in mind (ie. when therapy is free of charge, what are the terms of the contract?)

http://www.therapyabuse.org/p2-wrong-questionable-treatment.htm

Here is another good, slightly humorous view of top ten things you might not know about therapists:

http://www.bustle.com/articles/61462-10-things-therapists-wish-youd-understand-about-what-they-do

I thought I might have something to add to these very good tips and important boundaries to the only thing I think might be missing from these types of lists:

THE INTERNET and SMART PHONE DOS AND DONTS in THERAPY

The internet and other technology make every field completely confusing again and cause us to scratch our heads and reconsider the way we do what we do. From the law to the music business to anything, we need new GUIDELINES:

The Internet (social media, websites, etc.)

DO NOT GOOGLE or LOOK UP former patients:

One interesting mention of the internet in the second link was about how therapists do think about former patients more than you’d imagine but we still don’t/shouldn’t google them to see what is going on with them.

I know that is a good one, as I have been tempted, when thinking about a former patient, to look them up and see how they’re doing/what they’re doing. I have NOT done so with anyone, as I saw a big STOP sign in my head and it was a fleeting “fantasy”.

Social Media makes things extra fun and confusing:

USE SOCIAL MEDIA THERAPEUTICALLY ONLY:

It is great for people to find support and other people going through their experience, whatever media they are using, Youtube, Facebook Groups, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. I often recommend to patients who are interested and use social media, that they look for support groups and other things online, AS WELL AS out in the physical world.

I have watched a few Youtube videos made by patients and listened to Podcasts. The reason is important: The patient wanted me to and asked me to and it was always an important aspect of their therapy work, especially self-esteem and recovery topics. I have even used Youtube videos in session when appropriate.

In addition art therapy gives a patient alternate ways to express him/herself, including through social media. Think of it as similar to brining in some art you made between sessions that is relevant for therapy.

SOME DON’TS OF SOCIAL MEDIA. Some seem obvious:

DOn’t be Facebook “friends” with any patient and with former patients, with some exceptions about former patients. You cannot control patients accidentally seeing posts of yours and finding out you know someone in common. There are proper ways to handle this which would be a post in itself. Start with asking your patient about it  or if you found something, telling them as soon as possible and exploring this.

DON’T connect on  LINKED IN with patients and most former patients. If you’re in the same field, art therapy, you may not be able to avoid some LINKED IN stuff and can have a little more flexible boundaries about it. I never accept Invitations to Connect from current patients; I don’t usually bring it up unless my patient is on LINKED IN a lot or brings it up themselves.

TWITTER: Can I “follow” some patients on Twitter? My answer would be what’s the reason? I have avoided it except in cases where someone had something important related to treatment on Twitter. As a rule, I abstain.

FACEBOOK PAGES: I have public Facebook pages that I cannot avoid patients finding and considering “liking” my page. As they are related to therapy and art, I consider it ok for patients to do that only if they decide on their own for some reason. Also, I do not look a lot at who is “liking” my pages and don’t care much about how many followers or who. IF you’re very into that, be aware of any feelings about patients liking your posts or not…

In some cases you may have liked someone’s Facebook page and then found a patient involved with it. There are cases when you can’t avoid this, especially having patients who are/were art therapists and got a diploma from the same place. Your worlds will be very close and it’s a good boundary test to be aware of this. (IF I am attending an event or workshop etc. and a patient is likely to be there, I process this with the patient before hand.

BLOGS:

This is a huge question mark for me. Do any of my patient s or former patients follow or ever read my blog? I actually don’t know. When I post here, I am aware that a patient may come across my blog, so I do have that in mind. As a rule, if it does not come up, I of course do not bring it up, and if it does in the future, I would of course explore the topic with my patient. I have read a patient’s blog only if they give me the link and it is connected to their recovery and they want me to see it.

Therapist bloggers out there: Please share any further guidelines and experiences! You can put it in my comments section.

Blogging Classes: Most therapists out there don’t take these classes, but I do, and I even recommend some of them to patients. If I recommend a particular class, I do not enroll in it, even if I thought I wanted to before. If I found a patient in a class, I would address that and most likely leave the class or at least stay passive (no posts or comments on Blogging U site).

DOs and Donts of SKYPE/Video session: A big topic to address in future…

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Next post could be about the SMARTPHONE and boundaries. It’s a fascinating aspect of therapy and books or at least long chapters could be written about the uses and abuses of the SMARTPHONE technology…

 

Tuesday Post: Exciting Art Therapy News!

Almost a year ago, I posted my idea for opening a Coloring Bar in NYC. Now there will be a mini version of this Coloring Bar for adults at the Strand Bookstore in NYC. AND — there will be the coloring book there with the art therapists who made the book and are in the book! The book is called :

The Real Art Therapists of New York Adult Coloring Book

Here are links to both. If you scroll down to How did you come up with this

Link to book:The Coloring Book!

Link to the event:Coloring Bar Event in NYC

 

Wednesday: Image Post Day

I started doing “Mindfulness Drawings” at the beginning of this month, February. I got the idea from a patient who showed me their journal and how they were trying to write down the time and do something to get them more in the moment doodling things.

It’s a great idea and has brought me back to drawing in an observational way. It’s also a great way to draw everyday things without judging your drawing harshly.

It started like this one below in my journal, done on Feb. 4. I wrote down words that were either in my head or observations of the environment or conversation if I was with other people.

I was thinking about mindfulness principles in this one here, like “Observe and Describe” from DBT Mindfulness. In DBT there is also noticing when you’re in “rational mind”, “emotional mind” and “wise mind”.

Some of these drawings are layers of time, where I did some one evening and added more the next day.

The drawing below shows the heart hole puncher I drew as I was using it to make Valentine’s. I drew most of it during a phone session. My communications expert friend had told me recently, “Communication creates reality.” and I shared it on the phone. It was resonating for me and my patient.

This image below is the other side of the page posted as the first image, with the words “Observe and describe.”  I was looking at my watch and a clock so I drew the hands of my watch as well, and the song quoted was going on in my head about time…

The image below from Feb. 9 is in my journal. I started drawing scissors a lot because they were there. I hadn’t yet gotten inspired to make the objects talk.
  This one above is the other side of the journal drawing from the same day/time.

This one below is from yesterday afternoon during another phone session, and the tea pot is talking…

The one below was done last Friday, when I discovered that the heads or objects on the page were talking to me and about me. It started with the objects saying whether I drew them right or not and kept going. I had been drawing these heads from the coffee mug I made out of my images. The heads are from a collage piece; I noticed I was thinking about posting this picture of this drawing on Facebook which I do a lot, so the heads made a bet about when I would post it!  

This one above is from earlier yesterday. I had been drawing pens a lot and hadn’t drawn a bunch of pens in a cup as it seemed too hard. I was thinking of Morandi’s still lives and looking at post cards of them. I think I’m also thinking of Morandi as he mostly did still lives of everyday objects, and this series is starting to be about objects which are used, mostly basic office materials or art supplies, cups, etc.

This one above is on a piece of drawing paper and done last night as the date shows.

These drawings have become a way to be reminded to be mindful, in a different way than the bracelet. Drawing things you see often does get you into a different level of discovery, of looking closely at things you see every day.

This morning I drew the keys on my keychain; I’ve been challenging myself to just draw things, which get rid of judgment, another aspect of mindfulness, which is to be neutral about what is going on right here right now.

The added discovery of the objects talking to each other or saying things is partly thanks to my reading more this year, and thus reading more graphic novels, which inspire me to make my own talking pictures…

Thursday Image Post: Mindfulness Bracelet

A great art therapy activity in session: make a mindfulness bracelet. It can look any way you want. Something you wouldn’t mind wearing often.

What is a Mindfulness Bracelet? Just as it sounds, something to remind you to be in the present moment, that pulls you back from going off in your head, that reminds you to be here now, observe and describe, slow down and breathe…


Above: first one made on string and connected with safety pin…

  
Second onr: blue wire with beads and beaded safety pins.

Tuesday Post: Words: One Sentence or More

As a therapist, I sometimes say some useless, some unnecessary things, some not-well-thought out things, and every once in a while I say something quite useful, as I did yesterday with a patient who wrote it down and asked me to print it. Here it is and, not to be showing off too much, I have to follow this “advice” myself often! It’s pretty simple and not anything people haven’t said before…

If you are too busy trying to hold it all together you can’t let it all hang out.

Final Coloring Pages Done!

Side comment: I am terrible at deadlines and in January I had at least 2 big ones, both for parts of books, so I am excited I met both deadlines.

Here in the first image is the final Piece: I took the first image and cut out the letters and glued them on a piece of paper and then added drawing with gel ink pen! I really like the result. I was still working on it during the meeting! 

Below is the final version of the second page, with more drawing and embellishment added. I like the scribbly lines added to the outside of the “frame”!

Here is the first piece collage, still in progress.  

Below is the second one not done yet…

two more images from this past Saturday…  

End of month Art Post

Slow down and breathe: evolution of a Coloring Page:

I am very happy to announce that I made two coloring pages that will be published in a book of Adult Coloring Pages, all made by art therapists. I have been interested in coloring pages as a tool for art therapy for a long time, and the more I work with people making them, coloring in with my patients, the more  I am convinced of how magical it is.

I am of course not talking about the big phenomenon of adult coloring pages you can find everywhere from Whole Foods to book stores to airports. They are marketed as “therapeutic”. Some even use the words “Art Therapy”; those ones are really a law suit in the making. Art therapy has nothing to do with buying a coloring book and sitting at home coloring to calm yourself down. It would be like saying that filling out a self help workbook is the same as going to see a therapist specializing in Cognitive or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. IT’s nonsense.

Luckily the people at New York Creative Arts Therapists are putting together this special coloring book to educate the public and bring awareness to the field of art therapy.

About a year and a half ago, I actually had a fantasy about finding an investor to open a “Coloring Bar” in Manhattan, NYC. I envisioned a cool lounge like space where people could go and sit and color pages provided that they could choose. Like going in a bar but instead of ordering beverages and snacks, you pick out coloring pages and art materials to use and sit alone, at a table or at the bar to color…

I shared this idea with the people making this book when I found out about it, and they are planning to have a launch event that will be like the Coloring Bar, and perhaps, a few other events of a similar nature. Kind of using the “Pop Up Shop” idea, and perhaps it will end up somewhere that there might be a permanent Coloring Bar. One can dream! I always say you can’t get withdrawal from dreaming high.

So, The Real Art Therapists of New York Coloring Book. Here is the link:

https://nycreativetherapists.com/buy-coloring-book

In addition, I was invited to color in my own coloring page to be sold as a piece of art and reproduced on postcards.

Here is a little of the process I went through. I started one and it went into a place where I didn’t like it, so I began an other. As with all my art, I surprised myself in the end by going to a place I’d not envisioned. I ended up with two finished pieces.

Here is the first image of the first page I colored that I almost threw out and ended up cutting up to make a collage with:

I was imagining that I would maybe start painting on it, messing it up to make a statement about coloring in the lines. Instead I got it so full of neon that I tried painting white over the background to tone it down, as you can see below in this second picture. I hated it and started a whole new one and put it aside…  

This third photo below shows who it was going before it got to that place. This is still the first one I was trying out:

HEre’s another photo of the first one when it was getting crazy with the colors…  

After I painted white over it, I took a photo from the back to show the neon that I covered, as I for some reason never took a picture of it right before the white paint…

The photo below is blurry. It’s a stage of the second page I made, trying not to use neon and just use glitter and metallic colors.

Here is another photo of the one I “messed up”. At this point it looked really cool. That’s how art is, you take things too far and that’s the way it goes, at least for me. The point of coloring in my own page was to illustrate the inventive things you can do with a coloring page: that the limits of what you have can open up creativity and be a way to experiment and have fun…    

Below is the first one with the paint covering up the background, and the start of the second one…

Below is the second page on the way to being finished, or so I thought at the time! Actually, I finished both final pieces while at the meeting for the Coloring Book Event planning at New York Creative Arts Therapists in Williamsburg this Saturday, Jan. 30!

I will post the final results in another post…

These aren’t in time order…  

Short Posts Again!

Going back to the 1-5 or 7ish sentence post (thank goodness for semi colons.):

New dilemma/challenge for therapy process, for therapists and their patients: Texting. One issue involves receiving a text meant for someone else; I’ve experienced it both ways. I accidentally texted a patient something meant for a personal person; I was relieved that it wasn’t super embarrassing. You can imagine how crazy it could be for either party. Also have received texts that follow a text for me, where the patient meant to send the text to a significant person in their life and by mistake sent it to me. What would Melanie Klein and all the others make of that??!!