Now Accepting CIGNA!!!

 

Art Therapy makes it more and more to the mainstream as insurance companies begin to reimburse for and add art therapy providers.  I am pleased to announce my participation in the Cigna network.  See link below for my listing in the provider directory and please share with anyone who may be interested in art therapy services who has Cigna.

As always- Have a Great Day!

Lorraine

https://apps.cignabehavioral.com/web/consumer.do#/finAtherapistProviderDetailspage?providerId=5596116

How We Are Connected- Art Therapy’s Role in Understanding Who We Are

 

We engage in relationships every day, whether it is relationship to self, family, friends or community. Art therapy can be an entry to deeper understanding of these relationships and lead to happier and more fulfilling lives.

 

Relationship with Self. This includes self-understanding, self-awareness and insight.  Are you kind to yourself, critical, forgiving, accepting? The relationship with oneself can be seen through the act of creating and the themes that develop.  One of the greatest advantages of expressive art-making, is that what is created by the client provides an opportunity for the artist and therapist to look at a tangible reflection of the self.  The artwork allows distance from sometimes sensitive content so that discussion can flow more freely.

 

Relationship with Therapist. This unique relationship develops over the course of treatment.  Therapists should be accepting, supportive and nurturing, providing guidance, encouraging exploration of relationships and challenging thoughts and perceptions when appropriate.  Ultimately, the relationship should be a partnership built on trust.  The way a client and a therapist relate can be a model for communication. The relationship with an art therapist can be seen in the client’s willingness to engage in art-making, a felt sense of safety to take risks and to share in discussion, as well as including the art therapist in the creative planning and process.

 

Relationship with Significant Others. This often is a focus of treatment and can include current or past relationships.  Current relationships with significant others often are influenced by past experiences and attachments.  Memories, to a large extent, are stored visually and therefore the art created in sessions allows access to unresolved conflicts.  By bringing these things to light with guidance, one can find closure.  The resolution of conflicts from past relationships and remembering what has worked well, allows one to improve current relationships.

 

Relationships with significant others can be seen through inclusion or exclusion of individuals in art pieces.  How they are depicted also is important.  Specific art directives are aimed at developing empathy, improving communication and increasing problem-solving skills to assist a client dealing with relationship issues.

 

Relationship with Community/Social Activities.  Individuals who are struggling personally usually benefit from expanding their social activities and community engagement. This may even be a goal for treatment.  For those who already have a strong tie and investment in the community, the focus might be to utilize these networks to receive support and feedback about changes.

 

Art Therapy group-work can be very powerful for reflecting on oneself in a social context. Groups encourage teamwork and building communication skills.  Membership in an art therapy group can be a source of inspiration.  Participants are bonded by their creative energy and the cause or purpose that brings them together.

 

When individuals improve their relationship with self, others and their community, their world view tends to change for the positive. Artwork themes tend to shift as clients feel stronger and more confident.  The subject of artwork may become lighter and more optimistic which translates into a sense of hope for all people and greater possibilities.

Walking Your Path: Intention, Art and Yoga

Happy New Year Everyone!  I first would like to acknowledge that it has been almost 2 months since my last post.  I have been actively involved in several new projects that I look forward to sharing here.

 

This post is based on a workshop that I co-lead with a yoga instructor over the summer.  The concept of combining yoga and art therapy is relatively new.  I however, have been practicing yoga for almost as long as I have been providing art therapy services.  Initially, I began attending yoga classes for exercise and relaxation.  Over time, I found so many of the key concepts in yoga to be similar or complementary to the therapeutic benefits of expressive art-making: awareness, grounding, relaxation, self-care, clarity, energizing, balance, intention and more.

While I was enjoying these benefits through my own art-making and yoga practice, I was also learning about the mind-body connection through my work as an art therapist.  The mental health and wellness fields have been invested for some time in training and practicing in a more integrated way; treating individuals holistically.  There is no doubt with my research and experience that the mind influences the body and the body influences the mind.  Of course, stating it that way is helpful for understanding but is not accurate if you truly see the body and mind as one.  The distinction is not so clear.

I began to feel that the work I was doing, although using the body (hands, eyes etc.), with art-making was limited.  I sought out trainings and read literature about incorporating breathing, mindfulness, movement and yoga into treatment.  I was fortunate to be supported in this by my colleagues and supervisors.

Shortly after, I established my private practice- Safe Haven Arts, I learned that a friend of mine had completed yoga teacher training.  We discussed the possibility of working together to bring the therapeutic benefits of art therapy and yoga to a larger audience.  This past summer, we ran our first group together: “Walking Your Path: Intention, Art and Yoga” at Cornerstone Wellness in Goshen, NY.

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Breathing Exercise

 

 

breathing-exercise-yoga-art-rightWe started with a breathing exercise and then moved into a discussion about intention.  Participants “set their intention(s)” at the beginning of the hour long yoga sequence.

considering-intention-yoga-artParticipants then chose and developed a mandala taken from the breathing exercise, that included contributions from the whole group.  They were asked to develop the mandalas using collage materials and to focus on their original intention.

mandalas-in-progress-yoga-art   Follow-up questions and discussion led to bonding between group members and identification of ways to continue pursuing their intentions beyond the group.

Further workshops are being planned for this Spring and Summer.  Locations to be determined.  Please share and respond to this post.

GONG BATH- Relaxation and Meditation

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So as promised, after a few hectic weeks I am returning to share about my weekend Yoga for Anxiety and Depression retreat…

One of the most interesting experiences was not at all part of the workshop I attended.  In the evenings at the Ananda Ashram, Yoga Society of New York located in Monroe, NY  http://www.anandaashram.org there were optional activities.  I was curious about something called a “Gong Bath” and understood it is part of sound healing.  I figured I would give it a try.

I entered this large hall with easily 100 people lying down on yoga mats.  There were gongs of all sizes on each end of the hall.  There was a team of about 10 people who played the instruments for an hour long meditation.

The above YouTube video comes close to the sounds I heard but amplified by the number of instruments and musicians.  Of course the vibration in the room was different then what you might get from your computer.  I highly recommend reading the introduction as it speaks more about the philosophy behind this practice.  And if you do not have 42 minutes for the entire audio then check-out the link below which is an amazing 12 minute version of a gong bath.

The best way I can describe my experience is that it was immense, chilling and beautiful.  For those of you who are interested in or have tried meditating, incorporating the sounds of the gong adds another level.  I found it kept my mind from wandering.  Strangely enough, at times it was difficult to differentiate if the sounds were coming from the outside world or were reverberating from my internal world.  I felt truly connected.

I realize this practice is not for everyone and the sounds at times were dramatic and even frightening- like a storm brewing and then at times releasing.  But if you know you are in a safe place and can hang on for the ride it is well worth it!

As the bath drew to an end they played kasha chimes which was quite a magical ending to the experience.  I could not help but smile;  it reminded me of fairies dancing on the wind.

So as we turn the page, from the election and head toward the holiday season, I invite you to  sit or lay back and give a gong bath a try!  To hold on to the experience you can even do an art piece or some writing following your cleansing 🙂

 

A Must Read- The Missing Piece…

“The Missing Piece Meets the Big O” by Shel Silverstein is one of my all time favorite books.  I recommend this short story to everyone and find it can be an especially useful tool for therapy sessions.  Click the link below to access on You Tube:

Often people feel they need someone or something to make them feel “whole”.  Considering all the trials and tribulations the missing piece goes through in this story, it reminds me of many of my past experiences with people.  At times I was the missing piece.  At other times I was an O missing a piece.  It has been a journey to become my own Big O.  Being a Big O is not constant- sometimes I roll alone or with others, sometimes I sit and observe or rest.  My shape changes every day.  But the wholeness of my being is important to remember.  I appreciate the other shapes around me as their presence contributes to my experience of being.

In sessions, I ask clients to consider if they can relate to any of the shapes in this story today, in the past and where they see themselves going/what they would like to achieve.

I believe each one of us is both the missing piece (our current awareness of self) and the Big O (our potential).  In invite clients to use art materials to represent that using the following template:

missingpieceo

I invite you to do the same.  It is a simple image that can be colored to represent ourself, our potential/desire and even our sharp edges.  This image is mandala like and can be altered to suit the individual.  Enjoy!

Emotionally Charged Language and the Power of Persuasion

Are you afraid for the future of this country or angry with how government is flgimgs1000000109_-00_american-flag-heart-graphic-downloadable-image_4operating?  As a voter in this upcoming presidential election it may be difficult to feel otherwise.  These concepts have been reiterated throughout the debates and campaigns.  It is clear (if you have spoken to anyone in the last few months about the election) that the general public carries significant concerns.

Fear and anger are strong forces when decisions need to be made.  My feelings after watching the last two debates were a mix of frustration and hope.  I still believe in the the democratic process and think the issues being discussed are of great importance.  I feel frustrated to repeatedly hear so much of the efforts and gains that have been made to be dismissed as “a disaster”.  I recognize that the beauty of our struggles is that we have a say and in order to progress there will be disagreements.  I can wish for different candidates or tactics but in the end the passion of the voices (for example in the checkout line at the supermarket) I find encouraging.  Does anyone believe at times of great crisis or change in our history there was ease and certainty?

So as much as I debated with myself about posting this blog, I am happy to say my better sense won.  Yes this is a current event that is impacting our country’s (if not the world’s) mental health.  The anxiety, fear, anger and hope of change does not have to be disastrous.  If we can acknowledge our feelings at this time then maybe we can focus on making a sound decision; a decision based on our values and beliefs.

The same can be said of any of our personal decisions when it comes to emotionally charged topics and influential people.

 

The Monk and the Scorpion- Beliefs, Repetition and Compassion

Yoga’s influence on my life view and understanding of the world has been immense.  Not only have I received the physical and emotional benefits of practicing, I also have carried some of the stories into my work with clients.  One of my favorites stories that was shared in a yoga class was about two monks and a scorpion…

The Monk and the Scorpion

Once in a monastery two monks walked about doing their morning duties. As they passed a small bowl, filled with rain, they saw a scorpion was drowning in the water. One monk reached in to save the creature. As soon as his fingers touched the panicking Scorpion, it stung him and the monk dropped the Scorpion back into the water. The monk sighed, and reached back in. This time he got his grip a little firmer, but still dropped the Scorpion when he was stung. He kept reaching in, as his friend looked on in confusion. After dozens of attempts, the other monk spoke up saying “Brother, why do you keep trying to save that scorpion? It stings you every time you come near it. The monk paused before reaching in again and smiled. As another sting bit into his hand, he took a fallen leaf from the ground and pulled the scorpion out to safety. He finally said: “Because it is his nature to sting, and my nature to save. Don’t forget brother, soon either I’ll stop feeling the pain of the sting and he will be saved, or he will stop being afraid and be saved.’ Compassion cannot be stopped so easily.’  Taken from Buddhist Reflections online

When I first heard this story I was conflicted by the desire “to save” and the confusion and frustration of seeing someone repetitively behave in a way that leads to self harm.  This can be a struggle for many therapists, family members, friends, teachers, individuals…

Hearing the end of the story about it being the monks nature to save was powerful for me.  Helping those you care for/or simply other beings can be difficult and painful but is part of who I am.  The reward is sometimes in the results but always in being true to my beliefs.

The friend monk although initially blinded by his own view, was critical in this story.  Sometimes a question to open a dialogue can make all the difference.  The friend monk gained a greater understanding of why his friend behaved in a way that did not make sense to him.  Perhaps the friend monk could then apply it to looking at his own beliefs.

In the original story I heard there was no leaf.  I do like how the compassionate monk was able to take in what his friend inquired about and make a slight change to achieve the same goal with less suffering.

There are many ways to look at this story and I would love to hear some feedback and responses…

With this story in mind, I will be attending a 3-day workshop at Ananda Ashram on “Yoga for Depression and Anxiety” this weekend.  I look forward to the experience and will share in upcoming blogs!

How Does Your Anxiety Manifest? How is it Met?

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How Does Your Anxiety Manifest?  How is it Met?

These three watercolor images where responses to a conversation I had this morning about ownership, experience of and need for help concerning anxiety.

Some important questions to ask is what is your role and how do those around you respond to someone struggling with an anxious moment?  How often do you or others around you feel this way?  Is it a general state of being?  What image best depicts your experience?  Or perhaps take a moment to create your own representation…

Do forces collide and there is an explosion?

Are sides taken and nothing is accomplished but more tension and frustration?

Is the feeling recognized, contained and then with support the problem and solutions become clear and focused?

We all have these moments but with awareness (images can assist) we can strive for the more balanced and productive response to anxiety.

Image #3 is the new screensaver on my phone 🙂

Hello world!

So on this rainy Monday, I am reflecting about the beginning of the school year, Fall and change.  Like many people who have school aged children, this time of year is a real transition; getting back into the routine of early mornings, helping with homework, all the paperwork to sort from school and really being on top of your game for the kids.

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It also leaves a very different feeling at home.  A quiet house may provide the opportunity to return to unfinished projects.  It is a reprieve for some.  For others it may be a sense of loneliness and loss.  It is a good time to focus on oneself and prepare for the holidays and cold months ahead.

With mixed emotions and empathy for other parents out there, I look forward to what I can accomplish this season!