I began my training long before I started working with The Light of the Heart. I have always used art to express a variety of moods, and this has
evolved rapidly over the past few years. For instance, I have learned to make art to understand coursework, reflect on the process of graduate school, and work through general life experiences.
I have also learned to notice how much I hold inside my body. I carry my own emotions and experiences, but I also carry my clients and others with me. At my best, I have revelations about art therapy directives for particular clients when I’m stirring pasta sauce or going to work or washing my hair. At my worst, I want to just hide under a table and let the world sort out its own problems. When I see too many emails or feel overwhelmed with work, I have the urge to grumble in a prickly, cryptic voice, “Stop asking me for things.” This is hard work that we do, but necessary.
This leads me to one of the most important things I’ve learned—self-care. Some days, I take better care of my movie and music collection than myself. I actually hadn’t heard the term until grad school, when classmates would chidingly say, “Self-care” when I mentioned getting only four hours of sleep or when I declined an invitation to hang out. Self-care, Carla. What? Self-care.
The term stumped me. I’ve come to realize that it’s an ongoing, changeable process, and I will always be working on
it. For example, a few months ago, I smashed a few of my ceramic sculptures on the driveway and later affixed those pieces to a multimedia board to make a new artwork. You may say, “You need more positive outlets to deal with
your anger!” But art is one of the best ways to channel that emotion in a positive way—to make it therapeutic.
More recently, smashing terra cotta and stoneware has given way to scratching words on paper—haphazard words coming together to form a verse. Thinking made visible, offering a clarity that only art could provide. It’s
It’s baking to get my hands dirty and spill flour everywhere. It’s running through the woods and scraping my knee. Or taking a 45-minute nap. Painting. Turning down a friend so I could read a good book or watch a movie.
What I need will change day by day. Likewise, my clients’ needs will change and I have to watch for that.
Knowing all this helps me feel less…stuck. I also feel some relief knowing that I don’t have to interrogate my client, or do my best Tom Cruise Jerry Maguire impersonation and insist, “Help me help you” over and over again. I can use my intuition or feelings—the dreaded ‘f’ word we are often criticized for having—to help guide the session in a way that’s beneficial to my client. Sometimes, I’ll be wrong, and the client will tell me somehow. This is a process I’m
I look forward to seeing what else my clients and my time at The Light of the Heart will teach me.