Topic Tuesday: Art Therapy

“Art Therapy” (By: Kristin F.)

In the paKristin Fst couple of years, I have explored all kinds of self discovery. Sometimes it feels selfish, spending so much time working on ME. But, it’s also important to realize that you (and me) have an impact on the world. Your impact starts with you, who you are on the inside, your inner-being’s health-emotional, spiritual, psychological. If you ignore this, you miss out on the beauty of self-reflection. Each of us were made to be unique individuals, everyone is different, each bringing distinctive qualities. The more you understand about you, the more clarity of self you have, the more you get to share with others.

I have been in therapy for about 4 years now. Life changing, for sure. Helping me think through the way I process the world, how I find myself within it, and how I interact with others. Coupled with that one on one therapy, I have done eating disorder support groups, and spiritual recovery groups. All impactful. Two years ago, I did equine therapy. That was pretty amazing. I learned so much about how I care for others, through a HORSE. I learned what I shy away from naturally (direct confrontation), I learned what I take head on (nurturing another being), I learned what I expect (to instantly connect with others-impossible with a horse as trust is the foundation of intimacy with a horse…and with people). I learned what intimidated me, what frustrated me, what felt innate to me. All through…a horse.

My current therapy exploration is art therapy. Believe me, my artistic abilities…are quite limited.  I went into this 8 week group with a timid mindset. I hadn’t touched anything within the realm of art in about 15 years. I mean, my art is writing. Not creating necessarily. The group is with other women who have all struggled with an eating disorder. It is meant to help us express ourselves in a new way and learn something about ourselves through different mediums. In the first session I had to get over the fact that I felt like I was 10 years old again, scribbling away with bright colors, making shapes and objects that kind of looked like…blobs. Ha! But art therapy helps you realize your personal approach-how you do ANYTHING is how you do everything. It’s all process focused, so your end creation isn’t really the point (blob or not), it’s about how you went about it.

Two weeks ago, we created boats that represented our ‘self’ and then anchors that represented what grounds us. We then were supposed to create an affirmation about the ability of our boats to navigate life and an affirmation about our anchor and how it is associated with a place in our body.  I covered my boat in various colored tissue paper, representing layers of my self. My affirmation for the boat was ‘Layers help create depth and strength of self. I will not let my layers weigh me down.’ My anchor was a heart, as love of self and others is what grounds me. My affirmation there was ‘love is my anchor, I feel loved when am close to my loved ones. I feel love deep in my soul, in my heart. I feel anchored when I am accepting of myself and love who I was created to be.’

Last week, our session was about exploring new materials and expressing our mind/body/spirit connection and then thinking about how we represented our mental/emotional, physical, and spiritual selves and how they interact. Immediately I wanted to show that each are interconnected, overlapping with one another..really feeding off each other. So, I created a sort of venn diagram. Each circle representing a piece of me. The mind a calm, but strong blue, the body a bright yellow, gold as the body is a temple, the spirit a warm peach, sweet and kind. The area they all intersect a green, representing a natural self, the connection to nature that my body feels at its innermost being. It was a great exploration, and it helped me remember that it is important to keep the awareness that our bodies are not just what we see in the mirror-they are SO much more. Our bodies are a gift.

About the Author

Kristin is originally from North Carolina but has lived in Nashville, TN for the past three years and now calls it home. Upon going to college in Virginia, Kristin fell victim to bulimia and struggled with her eating disorder for six years. Two years ago, she confessed to her family (who were unaware of her struggle), that she needed help. Through outpatient treatment, under the care of her beloved therapist, caring nutritionist, compassionate doctor, and countless support groups through EDCT, Kristin was able to overcome her bulimia and find peace in her recovery. The openness and vulnerability that Kristin experienced within the support groups allowed her to relate with others and overcome the intense loneliness that was a result of her eating disorder. She is extremely sensitive to these issues, as she knows ED is always lingering around the corner. She hopes that her story of finally standing up to ED can help others. Lastly, Kristin has found that animals are a wonderful vehicle in recovery, as they allow for unconditional love, no matter your size. She recently adopted a pug named Rora who brings her great joy.