Case Studies

Building resilience following a family suicide

A client completed five sessions of Arts Psychotherapy following their brother's suicide. The client's goal was to feel more resilient. The process that unfolded for them, in online sessions, was as follows:

  • Session 1 - We got to know the problem through visual art. The client prepared for our work together through buying an A3 sketchbook and some oil pastilles. We discvered the overall story through an image of wheat being tied in the middle. This evolved into deeper meaning, shedding light on how they felt.

  • Session 2 - We stepped back and took a look at the whole story, through mapping the family system. This revealed how unsupported the client felt in the dynamic. The client got to witness this. We brought in a next level of support, what they saw as their higher self with its wisdom. The session finished with the client feeling far more settled.

  • Session 3 - A symbol of this greater support happened naturally as the client's childhood teddy. This much loved toy popped up in therapy revealing a great deal of cognitive and emotional meaning and deepened appreciation of the family story in surprising ways.

  • Session 4 - Session 4 was spent gathering tools in the client's life, which help her being resilient. A key discovery was many of these resources were in nature and readily available.

  • Session 5 - This final session involved a ritual, carefully planned, to take the client from one state to another. This ritual included a song, specific movements and symbolism.

The client found therapy a success in meeting their goal of feeling more resillient and, importantly, being able to take this progress into their daily life. The client described their therapy as 'being touched by a little bit of magic'. This magic arises from clients experiencing a new dialog with themselves, including previously unconscious information, through active imagination, thinking viisually and thus engaging the whole brain (logical, symbolic, physical).

Making a positive contribution at work in a way I find stimulating

The client decided to complete a course of five arts psychotheapy sessions when they found themselves getting so stressed out each day in their new job they could not think straight. Talking about it - or thinking about it - was not helping. Their anxiety would become panic attacks without warning.

  • Session 1 - As is generally the case, they first took a look at the problem with visual art, using oil pastilles. An explosion resulted. They worked with this image for the whole session. This gave important 'witnessing' to the client's previously private pain.

  • Session 2 - We continued with visual art. The client created two drawings: what they had expected in the job and how it actually was. The key distinction was a cellular image. One was well and had intrinsic integraity and balance. The other was, amongst many things, unwell.

  • Session 3 - Because this was such a visceral experience for the client, they employed finger painting in session 3. The client looked at the situation working, not working and then completed a third picture connecting the two states. In this, they found flow and experience some mindul peace in the present moment.

  • Session 4 - This flow led to more mindful time in nature between sessions and the writing of a Haiku Poem, revealing how the client had moved on.

  • Session 5 - The final session involved the construction of the situation presented in the picture on the left. Detailed processing from all angles revealed meaning. The final take-home wisdom for the client was they were much more capable of 'climbing the challenges' life was presenting through being consistent in their engagement with nature.

More than a year later, walking mindfully in nature has become the key thing the client does to undertake the self-care they need in conjunction with stressful work. They have also gained enough confidence to change jobs and is now much happier. The outcome was fairly straightforward and one could argue the client could have started with this practical life habit. But they had to go through the deep feelings of overwhelm, and perceived failure, to come through to a space where they would not only listen to their body's innate wisdom but act on it - consistently.

If you would like to give Arts Psychotherapy a try, maybe for one session, please get in touch.