Playing with shapes and colors
Updated: Dec 13, 2018
We often work with images, both internal (e.g. inviting images from the subconscious to surface by means of relaxation) and external ones (drawing, painting) in my counseling process. Working with pictures is effective, powerful, weird and fun. In this short article, I'd like to explain why we work with images - and why creating art in itself is a healing process.
Our soul works in complex ways, and our feelings are linked to unconscious images, thoughts and thought patterns, as well as body sensations – millions of connections are created and recreated every second of our lives. Accessing emotions is one of the most fundamental things we do in counseling, and accessing and working with emotions can happen through any element of this vast invisible network.
Just like smelling the perfume of a long-forgotten love can take me back to the feeling of those gone days, I can also find back into old emotions by bringing back a mental image that I have inside me, e.g. of a childhood memory. This is the basis of the counseling techniques that work with internal images. In my integral approach, I combine techniques, and I always try to feel which of the methods could provide us a safe yet most efficient shortcut to the emotion that we're dealing with – and working with visual content is often my preferred route, even in combination with fairytale counseling. (By the way: if you're curious about how fairytales counseling works, you may be interested in this post.)
Creating art – drawing, painting, playing with clay or even making collages – works wonderfully in counseling, as it is unexpected, it allows us to put our rational mind (which we unfortunately tend to overuse in the 21st century) to rest, and let our creative side and imagination run wild. With art, we not only express unconsciously what's on our mind (and hence can be used as an effective mirror, almost like a soul-diagnostic tool), but we also heal ourselves. The soul will project content onto that piece of paper, then something will not feel right or incomplete, and you'll "fix it", change it, bend it, reshape it in form, and then that healed image gets projected back in, back into the soul. I'm of course over-simplifying, but that's the essence of it.
And just to address the biggest concern that often comes up: of course we don't at all have to be skilled artists! After all, we all knew how to draw in our childhood, before somebody made us feel that we're not good enough at this. That's why I like calling the activity 'playing with shapes and colors' rather than 'creating art'. But it's essentially almost the same.
To demonstrate how totally unimportant it is to be a great artist, I'm sharing a drawing of my own, coming from my own self-reflection based on a fairytale I was processing at the time.
Even though it was a while ago, and even though it has perhaps zero value to anyone else, this image still feels powerful to me. I look at it and remember the sudden realization about myself, that struck me as I observed this drawing. But even more interestingly, when I see that golden thread, and the heart of the tree, I still get that emotion, the feeling of pleasant warmth in my chest, it' still alive in me.
That's why working with images is fun and yet very effective, and that's why I use it in my counseling work as often as I can. And I'd encourage you to have fun with images too: draw, paint, play with shapes and colors, and allow yourself to be connected with your emotions. Find your way back to that inner child who instinctively knew how to do that.
Click here for a general introduction to my approach and methodology. Interested in trying a unique combination of art and fairytales in a counseling process? Then I encourage you to drop me a note, and book a first, free consultation session.