Physician Heal Thyself: Taking Our Own Best Medicine
By Aviva Gold MFA, CSW, ATR-BC, REAT
During my fourteen years of facilitating "Painting from the Source" workshops, I noticed that there was a surprisingly large proportion of art therapists, psychotherapists and those trained in the arts who were having the most difficulty with taking a risk on the empty paper. Participants trained in any one of these disciplines were among the ones who most fiercely resisted abandoning themselves to the power and honesty of the creative process.
Certainly the same was true for me. I was (as were many of you) trained in all three of the above mentioned disciplines. It was only through my own struggle facing the empty paper uninhibited, that I reclaimed my authentic artists soul from limiting beliefs and prejudices built up by my training and life. In so doing I also designed for others and myself the art experience that I, the healer, most needed to attend in order to heal. It is wisely said "we teach what we need to learn".
When we create space in our own lives for the symbolic dialog, we balance the best of the artist and professional therapist within us and in so doing become more authentic in our art and our work.
Some of the blocks to taking our own best medicine and facing the empty paper are:
1. Our need to do it right, look good, and have our creative productions be esthetically pleasing by art school standards.
2. Our training to look for pathology and hidden meaning.
3. Our investment in being in control, having professional composure and a clever, insightful mind.
4. Our care taking others as an effective way of avoiding our own pain and uncensored vulnerable selves.
5. Our fear of unleashing our own "madness".
When all is said and done, how can we expect our clients to express their true feelings, be vulnerable, trust themselves and us, if we can't do it? Doctor, seize the opportunity to heal thyself.
Through a dose of our own powerful medicine, in the form of guided and spontaneous play with crayons and paper, plus discussion, it is possible to address, gain clarity, and perhaps move through such issues as:
- Healing and reconciling the split between the free wild artist and the controlled analyst within.
- Overcoming the blocks of our training to be free.
- Dealing with the impact of restrictive, stressful work setting on our creative process.
- Resolving blocks and procrastination to expressing our own art.
- Establishing a safe and sacred environment for our own and our clients creativity to emerge.
- Strategies for bringing the power and integrity or our creative process into our lives on a regular basis.
- Connections between how our willingness to take risks and be honest in our creative process impacts on our clients progress.