Knowing what makes your heart sing and seeking out new things that contribute to that lovely song is incredibly important in this age of doing. When you feel joy, and your heart is singing you are BEING. You are in the moment, you are here and it is the most lovely feeling.
When we find joy in our lives we do well to slow down and enjoy it! Joy is such a gift, and we deserve to enjoy it to the fullest extent when we find it. Some people feel joy and move past it, feeling it briefly but needing to move on to do more and more. Instead of sitting and appreciating joy they only let themselves experience a tiny portion of its magic. Many of these individuals experience sadness and feelings of guilt if they stop doing because they have been taught that doing is what leads to happiness and joy. Doing is important, but these individuals are so busy doing that they have a hard time being.
As with everything balance is the key. We must be mindful of how much doing we are engaging in and make sure we balance it with healthy dose of being.
How much DOING is happening in your life right now? Are you listening when your heart sings? Are you balancing your DOING with BEING? And if not, can you find ways to balance these two things out, knowing you deserve to feel the full extent of joy when it happens?
Almost all types of therapy are useful if they are conducted with the right person and in an ethical manner (meaning the therapist is qualified, maintains confidentiality and is genuinely interested in helping you).
Therapy allows for a safe space in which we can discuss ourselves, our insights, our private thoughts, and our deepest desires. A good therapist can help us learn how to best help ourselves. Therapy is an amazing experience in itself,or should be, so why bring art into the mixture?
What is Art Therapy?
Art can be worked with in therapy in at least two different ways: Art Therapy and art used with therapy.
Art therapy is very different from art used with therapy. Art used with therapy is therapy that uses art as a tool. This type of therapy is often practiced by counsellors without additional art therapy training. This can be helpful for clients; however, it should not be thought of as Art Therapy. Art used with therapy is usually involves clients using art and artistic tools for specific exercises. For instance, I believe that the art exercise that involves a client drawing a pie-chart of their emotional needs is art being used with therapy. In the same sense, a client drawing a zentangle during session to help feel calm who does not explore the possible meanings behind the art is, I would argue, using the art as a tool.
An art therapist, a person who is trained in art therapy, is always mindful of the fact that the client and the therapist work with art to gain insight rather than using art. I personally believe that the process of working with art can facilitate amazing insight, help heal very old emotional wounds, and often leads to profound insight during sessions. During a session an art therapist may have the client work on a specific art exercise, or may have the client simply create whatever comes to mind. Sometimes the session involves talking about different art the client has experienced. One of the most important elements of Art Therapy comes from exploring the connection created through the art. What does the art tell us about our self? How does the art represent our inner thoughts and emotions? Why do we feel so connected with certain art pieces?
Why is Art Therapy Amazing?
Art is everywhere, and is thus relatable for everyone. Art crosses cultural barriers, language barriers, and gender barriers. Working with art during a therapy session allows for the client to express the inexpressible. Have you ever tried to explain how you feel and been unable to do so? Art allows you to express that feeling without words.
For example, the image below was used to express the feeling of hope-or something akin to hope. The feeling itself couldn’t be verbally explained, however this is how I felt at the time.
Art has an uncanny way of unblocking creative expression and creative problem solving abilities, which is incredibly useful for those working with depression and/or anxiety. A bit of art everyday keeps us moving creatively. I often ask my clients to try to create one thing every day between sessions. For the clients that adhere to this homework there are usually profound shifts in the way they view the world, how they solve problems at work and at home, and often a shift in how vivid their dreams become. For the clients who work with me long-term, the sketch book becomes a visual diary of our sessions and the work they have done. It is extremely gratifying to return to an image from a difficult time and thank it for its help. It is also amazing to witness the power these images have for both the client and the therapist that has the privilege of working with them.
Are you interested in Art Therapy? Do you have questions about Art Therapy? Feel free to send us an email or come in for a free consult. We are always more than happy to talk about the amazing powers of art!
Thank you for existing!
(Cammi is an Art Therapist and Canadian Certified Counsellor who has a private practice in Vancouver, BC and also works with clients online.)
This is a question I am asked over and over again. It seems that Vancouver, one of the trendiest, most beautiful places in Canada has a big problem with connection. People just can’t seem to find the friends they are looking for.
There are many possible reasons for this phenomenon. Possibly it’s because of the transient nature of the people that inhabit the city, or maybe it’s because of the high living costs (which often lead to overworking). I’m not entirely sure why Vancouver has this problem, but I do have some suggestions for those that are looking to connect with like-minded people.
1) Check out meetups! Meetups are usually free, happen often, and are geared towards helping individuals meet like-minded people. Interested in art? Check out our meetup group: “Art For Connection” (we also have a Dream Exploration meetup group!)
2) Go to some of the many free events Vancouver is host to. These events are advertised on Facebook and Eventbright. You are more likely to find people you will connect with at events you are interested in!
3) Join a community class. Vancouver’s many community centres offer everything from yoga to Italian cooking lessons! These are a great way to learn something new and meet new people!
4) Get a dog-or borrow a dog! Vancouver is a strangely dog oriented city. Off leash parks are some of the best places to meet new folks! This only works if you actually like dogs though.
What are your best “meeting friends in Vancouver” tips?
On this Journey We Call Our Life: Living the Questions
By: James Hollis
A lovely book exploring the first and second half of life and the questions we must ask ourselves regarding both. James Hollis has a prolific way of speaking, and an ability to challenge the unique individual in us all. In this book Hollis calls us to the task of being our best self.
True Love: A Practice For Awakening the Heart
By: Thich Nhat Hanh
A beautifully written book by internationally known Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh.This book explores four aspects of love from a Buddhist perspective and provides many meaningful stories and anecdotes to help understand the teachings. I have given many copies of this book to individuals over the years. This books is a lovely
reminder of how much choice we have in how we show our love and
affection for others.
The Artists Way
By: Julia B. Cameron
This book takes you on a creativity boosting adventure! Julia Cameron guides the reader through different exercises meant to help with creativity, self-love, and confidence while also explaining the importance of cherishing and supporting the inner artist in us all.
This book has been incredibly helpful to so many different people in
my life, including myself! I often find myself going back to certain
exercises or practices I learned in the Artists Way. In fact, many of
these practices have become a regular routine in my life!
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
By: Bessel van der Kolk M.D.
This book is the ultimate book on trauma. Not only is it readable (some might even say a page turner!), but it also illuminates the world of trauma and the way trauma effects our body, mind, and brain! Psycholog fans
will love this book, and most everyone else will find the personal stories, the anecdotes, and the research to be so compelling that they will find
themselves searching for the sequel.
Memories, Dreams, Reflections
By: C. G. Jung
A beautiful story, and often the hook that gets individuals interested in Jungian theory. In this book Jung talks about the entirety of his life, from growing up in a religious household to his famous split with Freud. The writing is compelling and thought provoking. This is a book you will
want to read over and over again.)
Enjoying the Holidays and Healthy, Helpful, Holiday Hacks!
As the holiday season approaches the social expectations, familial expectations, and personal expectations tend to take over and flood the brain. There are often expectations regarding gifts, time away, food, hosting and many, many other things. Even if you do not celebrate the holiday season the stress from others can boil over and affect you!
The holiday season can easily take over our lives and leave us feeling resentful and glad when it’s over. Some individuals have even gotten to the point where they dread the holiday season so much that they simply no longer do it. While I personally still engage with the holiday season, I think this is a wonderful way of affirming self-worth and taking back control from external expectations!
Wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy the holiday season? How can we go about setting ourselves up for success this holiday season?
I have found a few things are very important when planning to either survive or thrive during the holidays. Here is my list of “Healthy, Helpful, Holiday Hacks!”
Healthy, Helpful, Holiday Hacks!
1) Know where you need to be and when. Take the time to really nail down your schedule. Write it in your phone, set reminders, or even alarms! This will take a mountain of stress off your shoulders. It will also prevent you from double booking yourself!
2) Say no. You can’t be everywhere at once. For your schedule to work you must only schedule yourself for what you can handle. There is nothing worse than having to rush a dinner in order to make another dinner. You must also consider the personal time you will need during the holidays. You cannot fill the holiday season full of events for others without taking time for yourself. You will burn out and you will likely start to feel resentful.
3) Think carefully about gifting. Do you need to give gifts? Are there certain people that you feel you need to get gifts for? Are there others that could do without? Financial stress is paramount during the holidays; thus, it is important to figure out if you can afford to give gifts. Handmade cards or even notes are often a much more personal gift than a small trinket, and they cost very little to make.
If you are thinking of making a card or writing a note here is a tip for what you can include in order to make the gift that much more special: when writing a note or card instead of a gift answer the following questions:
How do you know this person?
What do you really like about this person?
What makes this person unique?
What do you hope for this person during the Holidays?
For example, If I was writing a note to myself, I might say:
Dear Cammi, I am so thankful to have known you my entire life. You are an amazing listener and I love the different colours you are constantly dying your hair. I hope you have a great holiday season and get to spend some quality time with those you love! Best, Cammi
4) Take time for yourself. This is a must. Not only taking time for yourself but also making time for yourself in advance. In order to be present, you need to be well rested and mentally fresh. You cannot be present if you have not had time to take care of yourself.
5) Bring a deck of cards and put the phone away. Cellphones are a great escape, in fact, they are the best escape; however, they take away from the communal experience. There are often situations during the holidays where people are gathered, and while some enjoy this experience and the opportunity for conversation others can feel anxious or bored. Having a deck of cards, and knowing how to play and teach a quick card game can give individuals a fun activity to engage in. The advantage of cards over other games is that they are small, well known to most people, and can easily be pulled out in many different situations.
6) Keep going to therapy or counselling. Make time to continue your sessions if you see a therapist or counsellor. This is one of the most stressful times of the year, this is the time when most people really need that special hour to talk to someone, to vent to someone, to paint their anger, or to strategize about getting through that one particular family dinner.
7) Do something playful! One of the most therapeutic things for stress is to play! I say it often, adults simply do not play enough! Go make a snowman! Make a gingerbread fortress! Create the most decadent hot chocolate you can think of! Watch your favourite holiday movie! Let your inner child out!
I wish you the best this holiday season and I hope you can share it with those you love and cherish.
Have you ever been listened to in a way that makes you feel truly heard? Did it make you feel validated? Perhaps understood?
Chances are you felt connected to who was listening to you.
Why can some people makes us feel more understood than others? The answer, I believe, is because they are actively listening and giving their full attention to whatever is being said.
Have you ever been talking to someone who cut you off? How about talking to someone who started texting someone while you were speaking? Perhaps talking to someone only to find they didn’t understand what you were staying in the slightest? How did you feel after these encounters? I imagine you didn’t feel great. When you take the time to talk to someone and they don’t truly listen to you it often feels degrading, insulting, and just plain bad!
No one is perfect, yet there are ways we can work towards being better listeners. As you become a better listener it is likely that your friends and colleagues will pick up on your listening skills and unconsciously improve their listening abilities too! They will also feel more validated and appreciated.
Improving Your Listening Skills
1)Take time to be fully present to the other person. Look at them, notice them. Are they wearing their hair in a new way? What color of shirt are they wearing? What color are their eyes? Take time to notice and appreciate that you are listening to a unique individual whose life has been incredibly different from yours, although it might be similar in some ways.
2) Block out your own opinions. You will likely feel the need to interject while listening, we all have opinions and views on topics. Try not to let yourself do this. The time for you to speak will come when the person you are listening to is done. This does not mean devaluing your opinions; rather, it means setting them aside so that you remain focused on listening.
3) Paraphrase. This is one of the best tools you can learn in order to test whether or not you have actually listened to someone. This small communication tool has saved many relationships and is an excellent way to demonstrate that you understand what a person has said. In order to paraphrase you must take what the person has said and say it back to them with different words. For instance:
Talker: I had the loveliest morning! I walked to the beach, wrote in my journal, and even made time for a coffee on the way back.
Listener: It sounds like you really enjoyed your morning! You were able to get to the beach, get some writing done, and even grab a coffee! Wow!
Talker: Thanks! It WAS great! I wish I could do this every morning! I am so busy these days, and Sarah works so much I never really get to see her. What can you do though I guess? That’s Vancouver life!
Listener: You and Sarah are so busy you don’t really get to enjoy days like these…it sounds like you wish you had more time.
You don’t want to paraphrase your entire conversation-that would interrupt the natural flow; however, paraphrasing is a lovely way to help someone to feel heard.
4) Don’t assume-ask. Don’t assume you know what someone is saying. Use statements like: “It sounds like…, it appears that…, I’m curious about…, are you feeling like…?”
If you are unsure it is always better to ask for clarification.
6) Use I statements-not “you” statements. I often teach couples this method in order to prevent disagreements from turning into heated, and often unhelpful, fights. When we use “you” statements we are really stating that YOU are the problem, and that YOU should change. When we use I statements we are describing how I am feeling, and how I am being influenced by a behaviour or event.
For instance, say two couples are fighting about cleaning. One couple uses “you” statements and the other uses “I statements”:
Lucy: The house is so dirty! Why are you always throwing your stuff around!? I always clean and you never do! Honestly, I love you, but you are such a slob! How can you live in this!?
Kelly: Seriously? You are going to pull that on my right now? I had a tough day at work and you come in here and scream at me about being a slob? You are being a total jerk right now. You could do more around the house too you know, it’s not all me.
Mike: Ack I can’t stand it anymore! The house is super dirty! I really appreciate a clean house. A dirty house makes me feel like I am living like a slob. Do you think we could figure out a way to keep this place from getting so dirty? I really would like something to change, the messiness is making me feel really gross.
Dan: I get that you don’t like how messy the house is. I just got home from work and had a super tough day. I don’t want you to feel gross, and I know I can be bad about leaving things around. It’s really hard to hear about how I’ve messed up again after coming home from such an awful day. Can we talk about this after supper?
I know these are fictional stories, but you get the point! Now imagine if we added paraphrasing into Mike and Dan’s conversation! How lovely would that be? Using I statements allows for resolution, while using “you” statements usually leads to defensiveness and non-helpful conflict.
I hope you can use some of these ideas to better your listening skills!
Thank you for existing!
Good bye hot summer days! Farewell beach! Fall is the transition period of the year. The season when plants start to put energy into making it through the winter, animals start to store fat, and humans try not to forget the lovely warm days of summer as they head into the cold dark days of winter.
Fall is the preparatory period for winter. The time to plan and organize, and make sure we have all we need in order to survive the much harsher season that awaits.
Psychologically this is an important time to start preparing for the sadness, stress and/or chaos that often accompanies the winter season.
Winter is supposed to be a time to hibernate and a time to take our practice (whatever it may be) deeper. However, in this society winter also often means more family engagements, more time spent inside, and the holiday season. How can you prepare for this season? How can you not only survive winter, but thrive in its glory and dark mystery?
Tips to Help You Prepare for Winter:
1) Make a list of things that help you when you are sad. 2) Make a list of things that help you when you are stressed out. 3) Make a list of people you can talk to you when things get too dark. 4) Create something that makes you feel warm and fuzzy. You can bring it out when winter hits! 5) Find a scent that makes you feel alive and invigorated. Make this scent a special item (whether it be perfume, essential oils, a candle…etc) that you only bring out when you are feeling overwhelmed or sad. 6) Write or draw what you hope to achieve this winter. This could be a financial goal, a relationship goal, a certain event you hope to go to, or even a type of spiritual or psychological exploration you would like to try.
Do you have any special preparations you do in order to prepare for winter? I would love to hear them!