Art Therapy Musings: Expression Sits Up Front

 

Written by Angela Kirby, NewEarth University faculty, School of The Living Arts

When passion in my research strikes, time walks out the door as I feel compelled to rummage around, filling my senses along with the drive to answer the ensuing questions.

I am unsure how I arrived at the worldwide initiative, the International Tribunal of Natural Justice (ITNJ) on its ITNJ YouTube channel, but I do know that after the initial wanting to look away from what I was hearing (in its Judicial Commission of Inquiry Into Child Trafficking & Child Sex Abuse) I felt a passion to help somehow. As I began with hearing the cases of child sexual abuse, satanic ritual and all that goes with that (and as much I was aware of it), it was something way off in the distance, but I soon realised that this was seriously in my/our faces to be addressed. I went from one account to another and I began to wonder, what happens to those who have told their story? How do they live their lives carrying the trauma they do? And us – as a global community – what a conundrum it is that the majority of us are either unaware or in disbelief of the atrocities taking place behind closed doors!

I wasn’t sure what I could do, but I knew that I needed to say something to someone about what I was seeing. This wasn’t something I was watching that I thought was a part of our history (and that in fact it has indeed a part of history for eons) or that it was no longer happening. But, to realise that it was still a part of the everyday of some people’s lives then I knew that if I could help, then I would – in whatever capacity and to the best of my ability, while knowing that there is a lot that I do not know, out of my depth. This work takes a loving community to hold space to build trust and work side-by-side, respecting one another.

A little about the work that I do: I am an Art Therapist and Counsellor.

What does that mean?

Well, I’m confidant you probably know that with counselling it is seeking assistance with emotional issues, which a person may feel they can’t find an answer to themselves and they therefore require help with someone outside of their familial circle. As an Art Therapist with clients I ascertain what the situation is. I then choose a process or pathway that will best facilitate the unfolding of an issue at-hand. When leading Workshops I choose a topic; and then set a series of up to 4 processes that include meditation, writing, and creative work of either drawing or using clay or other materials.

Art by Angela Kirby

In tandem with my aforementioned journey to assist the ITNJ, recently I also joined the faculty of NewEarth University in its School of The Living Arts, to develop creative curriculum and teach worldwide in the arena of this School’s discipline: Sound & Music, Visual and Performing Arts. This therapeutic work takes further the counselling role into the creative realms where thinking takes a back seat and expression sits in the front. Initially the ego can be absolutely convinced that it cannot let go, that it somehow “knows” the answers to an extent that drawing or even writing or building something with your hands, is SO abstract that it is “impossible” or that one definitely would not be able to do that. The, “I can’t draw, and I definitely don’t write and so therefore I can’t do…” mind-set enters in loud and clear. And the ego thinks that it would be easier to just walk right out of the door, high-tailing it out of there! With this mind-set there does appear to be a gate that begs to be opened, but appears locked and not even one you might wish to open. One may think: “That is for the creatives” … and you may consider yourself not inclined, in that way. Art Therapy is not about being an artist! Even a simple task of sweeping sand could be considered Art Therapy!

The power of this work brings up the inner emotions that are ready to be cleared, which is a natural progression. With this, resistance can appear but once any “rallying against” releases…then healing comes about. Then you may no longer avoid yourself; you embrace yourself, and the layering masks begin to fall away. And like the innocence of a child you begin to find your own way.

There are many processes that I work with that provide a bridge and tools appropriated to the issue at-hand. It may well be simply writing feelings down on paper, or expressing the day you’ve had or how writing (what you feel) wasn’t spoken to another – that will be witnessed. It could be a story written about your journey but said in a way that takes it out of the frame that it was initially in, and is now written like a myth or a tale to be told, which feels as some place far, far away. The power of this creativity can be profound; and where there was a lot of resistance (keeping the gate shut tight)… it now opens!

What is being asked of the Art Therapy participant is to tap into what arrives in the “here and now” – it’s tapping into the stream of consciousness that provides whatever needs to reveal itself.

We cannot think our way out of the task at hand, but with delicate movement (or movement that is quite bold) what originally felt deep and treacherous now begins to open up like a flower.

I look forward to exploring this therapeutic work with you in upcoming NEU Workshops and Courses, as we creatively navigate together in new healing ways of being.

With Love and grace,

Angela

 

Visit the NewEarth University School of The Living Arts

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