“I found that I could say things with colors and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way, things that I had no words for.” -Georgia O’Keeffe
With blackout poetry, the person takes a found document, such as a newspaper, magazine article or book page, and search for words in the text that stand out. The rest of the text is blacked out, creating a piece of poetry. Blackout poetry is quick and easy to produce. These pieces can be simple, blacked out with sharpie, or built up with drawings and paintings. It is a great tool to spark a discussion and to engage the creative process.
Draw a person in the rain assessment
The Draw a Person in the Rain Assessment focuses on a person’s vulnerability, environmental stressors, supports and coping strategies. This assessment can offer useful information about how a person is coping with in their life. Looking at the raindrops, the intensity of the rain, puddles, as well as rain gear, it can lead to a discussion about the persons coping strategies, stressors, and supports in the persons’ life.
The House-Tree-Person Assessment is a popular assessment tool used with children and adults. The client is instructed to make a freehand drawing of a house, a tree, and a person. These drawings open the dialogue for the client to describe, define and interpret their drawings and their environment.
Collage and Art Therapy
Creating collage work can be a great first step in creating art. Many people may feel nervous or overwhelmed at the art materials because they have not done art in years. Collage can be a great way to spark new ideas and stimulate thought. Utilizing the selection of images, the client can engage in thought and reflection with the therapist.
Dream Journals and Art Therapy
Art is a great way to document and process our dreams. Engaging in art-making in response to what was written about our dreams can allow us to engage and process through patterns and thoughts that come up. Keeping a dream journal can help us better understand our unconscious thoughts and patterns. There are many ways to document and process our dreams. Some might write in a journal for several weeks, look back and find similar patterns and make art as a reflection of what has been happening in that person’s life. Others may want to have a journal that they can write and draw every day to process and understand their dreams.
Kinetic Family Drawings
The Kinetic Family Drawing is an assessment tool that is used to assess family dynamics. The client is instructed to draw a picture of their family, including themselves, doing something. The art that is produced can lead to a discussion about the client’s family and their interactions with one another.
Mask Making and Art Therapy
Many people put on masks when interacting with others, to get through stressful times, during work and during professional times, to not let others see too much of our real selves. Mask making in art therapy is designed to help the client become aware of the masks we wear and what they choose to show the world and what hides behind. Working through this directive leads the client to become more aware of their actions and the masks they put up on a daily basis.
These dolls have many different names and have been used in many different cultures. In this context, the wish doll is used to think about our wishes, dreams, or aspirations we have for our future selves. Wishes are written on a small piece of paper and then crumpled up into a ball to create the wish doll’s head. These dolls can be as simple as or intricate and decorative as the person likes. These dolls can be a physical reminder of our wishes and can be very impactful to the person creating it. The doll can be placed in a special place the person cares about, as a gift, or placed somewhere as a reminder of your wish, or aspiration.
The mandala has a deep history in many cultures and is recognized for its deep spiritual meaning and representation of wholeness. The act of creating mandalas are therapeutic and symbolic. There is wide use of mandalas in art therapy. The shapes and colors chose are a reflection of the person creating it. As with most art therapy interventions, creating the mandala is not about the final product, it is about the process.
Watercolor and Art Therapy
Utilizing watercolor is a great example of the emphasis of art therapy being about the process, not the product. Working with a loose medium, such as watercolor can be a soothing activity for an anxious client, trying out an unfamiliar material, utilizing it as a means of communicating something we do not have words for or an experience that can help us practice mindfulness and being present. Process-oriented directives focus more on the act of creating and what comes up for the client, and less focus on the final product.