Arts Therapy

How we do art therapy at Cherish Clinic?

Majority of our clients seek more than just drawing with a precise instrument on a two dimensional surface.  At Cherish Clinic, art therapy is deconstructed and integrated with sensory-somatic experiences. There are no expectation to “draw” or create arts as neurotypically defined.  Instead, we support clients in exploring their own authentic aethestics and create an unque artistic process that nurishes them and faciliate a therapeutic experience their needs can be met, whatever it is. 

At Cherish Clinic, we are sensitive and critical of the use of “control” and how control is experienced in art therapy.  This is a major focus that shapes our approach.  For example, we always remove the hidden expectation that people must “do arts” during an art therapy session. 

 

 

Examples

Art Therapy with an Older Teen

The conversation has been about challenges with the social aspect of their high school experience.  There are feelings and sensations where there are no words and rising frustration at trying to articulate it.

Counsellor: [Presents a strange thick crayon] “This crayon is called the vomit crayon”.

Client: “A what?”

Counsellor: [Demonstrate on a piece of paper] “The crayon draws the yuckiest colours. See? But it’s kinda fun because no two lines are the same and you never know what will come out. Why don’t you try it out?”

Client: [Client becomes immersed in experimenting with the crayon and seeing the unique colours that emerge when the crayon is used differently]

10 quiet minutes later.

Counsellor: You look like you are really enjoying experimenting with this crayon. I just want to highlight the wonderful sensation you may have for the last 10 minutes.

Client: Yeah, it is quite relaxing.

Counsellor: Here try this regular ballpoint pen.

Client: [Draws a smiley face but they were frowning]

Counsellor: Did you get a different sensation?

Client: [Puts the pen down] Yeah.

Counsellor: Would you say this negative sensation is similar to the one we were talking about before the vomit crayon?

Client: Yeah. My circle sucks. Look.

Counsellor: You didn’t enjoy that.  Let’s go back to vomit crayon.

5 quiet minutes later.

Counsellor: You seem to enjoy the crayon more. I wonder why?

Client: You can’t use this crayon to draw anything useful.

Counsellor: Useful?

Client: Yeah, you can’t draw anything that makes sense.

Counsellor: But it is sure more enjoyable.

Client: Yeah, because I don’t have to worry about that. I can just play with it. 

Counsellor: Would you say… you don’t have to worry about performance and results with the vomit crayon.

Client: Yeah. 

Counsellor: [presents the ballpoint pen again] What would you do with this ballpoint pen, if you did not have to worry about performance and result?  

Client: [Made large daring and fast lines on top of the crayon]. This kinda looks cool.

Counsellor: That seems different from the experience you have with the smiley face.  What is different here?

Client: I am just doing. Not thinking too much about it.

 

Online Art Therapy with children

The counsellor and the child has been working on large scale drawing on Zoom whiteboard of a massive animal city complete with multiple spreadsheet on the city’s history, hero’s lineage, population growth, and real estate prices.  This is already highly therapeutic as the child is experimenting and processing internalized racism, ableism, and economic scarcity through this play. 

Counsellor: It’s time for Animal City’s daily news broadcast. What should we cover today? 

Child: We need to cover uhg….. today’s weather, uhg….the big accident! Accident in Main street neighbourhoood and all the houses are on fire!

Counsellor: Okay, anything else before we start?

Child: Nope!

Counsellor: [Clear throat] “Welcome everyone to Animal City Daily News Broadcast! Today’s weather…..  Next, there has been a major accident in the main street neighbourhood. Our new reporter is on the scene right now. What can you tell us about what is happening?”

Child: “Thank you. We are here at Main Street neighbourhood and everything is on fire! But all the animals are safe.”

Counsellor: “That is some good news amidst this terrible event. Can you tell us more about what happened?”

Child: “The houses is on fire for no reason and now animals have no where to live.”

Counsellor: “Can you interview one of the animals?.”

Child: “Yeah!” [puts on animal voice] We lost everything! My house was $300 million dollars and other neighbourhood is $1000 million dollars… And the city mayor is very bad.”

Counsellor: “Oh! No! You must be really worried about where you can live now.  I am glad you are safe right now though.”

Child: “Yeah! It’s Daddy Hero. He saved me and put the fire out.” 

Counsellor: “Wow! that is exciting! Can you tell us more about how he rescued the animals?”

 

 

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