inside art therapy

Putting art therapy ramblings to paper…

Dot Point Diva – Email at it’s most effective September 15, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — insidearttherapy @ 4:06 pm

This post is about one tiny aspect of self-care. It is about measuring and dealing with the day to day stressors that can add up and weigh us down. Today’s target: Email.

I am so over the huge time demand that workplace emails have brought into my life.  Typing is easier than writing, it’s easier than making a phone call. Relating a concept or a discussion that has been had with another person is now as easy as hitting the forward button.  And if I think a person is even vaguely interested, I can forward it ‘just in case’. I can send information and then be assured “I told them so”.  I can give them lots of information so that they don’t email me back with a long winded email with lots of questions! For the ‘speaker’ email has simplified our lives enormously. But what of the ‘listener’?

Because email is so easy, as the speaker we tend to over inform the listener. In an email we give the listener every last detail, and all too often in long drawn-out paragraphs that may, in fact, be more of a purging or cathartic missive, rather than an action plan, with only a few relevant points for the listener.

I aim to begin a revolution.  I aim to cut the ramblings and bless my listeners with dot point emails. Nothing more.  I aim to save my ramblings for my blog, (for when people have a choice to read it and usually the time!), and to cut to the point with my emails.

I plan on being the DOT POINT DIVA and I hope I can inspire you too.  Keep it simple and to the point. If we need to have a conversation, I’ll phone you. And if I still feel like I need to tell you my personal unresolved angst regarding some issue,  I’ll see an art therapist, paint a picture and get over it!


The 2013 Professional Carers Restorative Self Care Retreat August 29, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — insidearttherapy @ 5:19 pm

“Self Care is never a selfish act — it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have,  the gift I was put on  earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self,  and  give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves, but for the many others  whose lives we touch.”    Parker Palmer, author of “Let Your Life Speak”

Come and join us for two and a half days of best practice in the helping and caring professions.  The retreat aims to take people on a journey through a reflective self assessment, along with self-nurturing elements to assist people back to the core of why they originally engaged in this type of work.  It builds progressively over the weekend, and you will be joined by other people from a variety of helping and caring professions, who will probably share some of the same challenges that you have had in regards to self-care.  I really see the key to longevity in such professions as the ability to engage in ongoing and nurturing self care practices.

The structure of the weekend will include arts based activities, (where no art skills are required at all), story-telling and creativity, along with sharing of experiences and some treats.  On top of this, you will be fed and nurtured, and you will be absolved from any dish-washing or cooking responsibilities for the whole weekend. Sound good?  Check out the webpage at

Brains and caterpillar Art February 1, 2012

Filed under: Art Therapy,Creativity,The Neuroscience of Art and Therapy,Uncategorized — insidearttherapy @ 5:20 pm

One of the most amazing things that our bodies do, is move.  Think about it like this.  We take fuel, or nutrients, convert it into chemicals and then use it to create a mechanical movement. No need to plug in or turn it on or even think about it. We want to move, and we just do it.  What is even more amazing is how we regulate movement.  We go to grab a mug of coffee that we expect to be full but it’s not, and, as we pick it up, we nearly throw it over our shoulder because it’s so light.  On the other hand, we pick up a mug we expect to be empty and it’s not, it’s so heavy for a millisecond that we almost drop it. Somehow, our brain had determined that as this cup is full and will weigh (how much more?) that we will need to engage just a few more muscle fibres in the task of picking it up.  Just those few extra fibres that weren’t necessary make for a mighty forceful lift.  Or the full cup, bum, we didn’t engage enough, so on initial pickup the mug tilts wildly as our muscle and brain recalculates and gets enough lifting bits into action to lift it evenly.  And then we manage to carry a full cup, without it spilling, up a flight of stairs in the semi darkness. All fine, and we don’t spill a drop, until you think about it. Then the wobbles set in.

In my very first muscle physiology lecture, whilst I was listening to talk of myosin, actin and myofibrils and  I drew this:

Muscles it seems,contain millions of tiny critters, nibbling at the actin molecule with a tasty binding site to which the myosin cross-bridges (hereinafter referred to as caterpillars) can attach thus forming a contraction of the muscle as the darling things nibble and let go, nibble and let go.  The strength of the muscle pull just depends on how many caterpillars are recruited for the job.  The caterpillars are of course, clever creatures, and very obedient. If the brain says stop. the caterpillars, or just those instructed, stop immediately. Not like your average household pooch that can take 3 good yells and a schmako to make it stop.

I guess I want to make two points here.

ONE:  Every single movement, every single breath we take is truly a miraculous event.  Making art is wow, just so wow.

TWO:  This silly sketch, and a wonderful metaphor has helped me remember more about muscle physiology than I will ever have use for.

Finally, I’d like to point out that this highly automated system sometimes works too well.  I had my glass behind me on the bedhead and managed to pick it up, with my little finger to the rim of the glass instead of the usual pointer and thumb (try it behind your head!). Of course my brain decided once the glass made it almost over the top of my head, that something was terribly wrong and my hand did an auto correction, bringing my pointer and thumb to the upper position and pouring the entire contents over my head.  Mid-way through this spectacle, I attempted a reverse correction, but just slowed the pour enough for my husband to look up. Seeing me gently pouring iced tea over my head, he thought I’d finally flipped my lid.   At the conclusion of the incident, and my pithy explanation,  he fell out of bed laughing!


Finishing touches January 28, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — insidearttherapy @ 11:22 pm

I am exhausted.  My brain is melting.  I can see the finish line, but those last few hurdles look huge.  The most rewarding activity of the last few days has been inserting images into the text.  I have a gorgeous and talented daughter who is a photographer, cook, blogger, crafter and all round wonderful gal.  She has taken all of the photographs for the book and had edited them and made them just right!

An art therapy book is good, but beautiful pictures make it even better!  Aren’t they wonderful?

Please be patient with me as I get through the next couple of days. Don’t give up on me though, I will continue to post, even after the book has left my hands.   I aim to then transfer my art therapy musings to this forum instead of the book.


Thank you and About Ikon Institute Australia January 23, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — insidearttherapy @ 12:27 pm

I also want to thank all of those wonderful people who offered suggestions for a portable and studio art therapy kit. I have duly added most of them. Of course we all know you can have endless supplies and mediums to work with, but for beginner art therapists it is handy to have some sort of a checklist to get you started.

I have referred to my teaching Art Therapy on a few occasions and thought you might like to know a bit more. Jump on this link to see the wonderful courses available at Ikon in QLD, SA and WA.

Have a wonderful week!


Bum, poop, pinch and snotty December 30, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — insidearttherapy @ 3:08 pm


How is it that something I know SO well in practice is SO hard to put into words?

  • Careful consideration for mediums

The one tool art therapists have, that verbal counsellors frequently do not, is the art. It is easy to recognise the power of the art to effect insight and transformation, yet the use of the art tool, and in particular the qualities of the medium, is often neglected. Understanding, observing and utilising the qualities of the medium can greatly enhance the therapeutic outcome.In Expressive Therapies Continuum, (Hinz, 2009) discusses the qualities of mediums as an important consideration in serving the therapeutic goal.  Every medium and action engaged in the art therapy process can be examined and tailored to best serve the client’s goal.

Consider the size:Is the client best supported if the art to be created is large or small?  Does the client need the art to grow what is being depicted, or does it need to be contained?  A representation of current anxiety may best be represented on a small page if the therapeutic goal is served when the issue is small. Or perhaps the client has the necessary resources to see the ‘non-sense’ of the issue when it is created comically large?

Consider the bodily engagement with the size:Does the client become aggressive and demonstrative when the anxiety is large?  Depicting the ‘large’ anxiety, where the bodily movements required to make such an image, would also be large, and somewhat uncontained, may be counterproductive.Perhaps the client has a small, simmering but well contained anxiety, the large page coercing his or her body to open out physically to create such an image may provide quite a release.Consider the medium itself:If the anxiety is due to uncontrollable elements in his or her life, choosing a less controllable medium will resonate with this sense of helplessness.  Marbling is a highly uncontrollable medium, and can be used to resonate with a family’s sense of helplessness when a child is dying.   No matter how hard the artist tries, the medium, will go its own way, much like the disease ravaging their child’s body.

Image : Caption :  A 16 year old, with end stage Cystic Fibrosis, on being asked to create some heart designs.                                                                                                          “It’s a bit like life really, no matter how hard you try, it just goes its own way.  But then, there is some beauty still there, it’s just not the way I want.”

Try offering marbling to a client whose anxiety is caused through always being inflexible, controlled and controlling.  Ask them to make a star in the design, and within a few minutes this client will be highly challenged by the medium.  Will this assist the client in achieving the therapeutic goal?


All this Gobbledygook doesn’t even get close to capturing it…