Thursday, November 18, 2010

Coping Skills Box for Baby Art Therapists

This year’s internship is 95 parts group to five parts something else. I am working with adults. Last year’s internship was 20 parts group to 80 parts individual work and I was working with teens. When I started this “new” (not so new anymore) internship, sometimes my supervisor would say something like, “Hey, do you want to lead an art therapy group later today (or in half an hour)” and somewhere inside I would begin to hyperventilate psychologically, because although my favorite population is of the grown up world, figuring out what to do and how to keep this population engaged scared me.

I am still trying to figure out what art therapy means to me personally and where it fits into helping patients/clients/the entire world, but one thing I have noticed in my own corner of art making is that I use art to create what is missing. What was missing when my supervisor used to say, “Wanna lead this one?” was 1. A plan and 2. Familiar tools. Therefore, I made this…

The Art Therapy Coping Skills Box
(So that I can cope with pulling a group out of my back pocket at a moment’s notice)
This is the outside. In time, I hope to completely engulf it in art, but for now I've only done the lid. The quote is from No More Secondhand Art by Peter London. "The artistic process is more than a collection of crafted things, it is more than the process of creating those things. It is the chance to encounter dimensions of our inner being and to discover deep, rewarding patterns of meaning."

The inside looks like this...
I have supplies in here for cards, flags, worry people, mindfulness beads, seed packets, masks, body scans, collage and a stress ball.

Most importantly, I have this!
This is my group notebook. I take this with me to my internship everyday and keep it with me pretty much all of the time. (What is that Marine rhyme? "This is my rifle..." It's like that.) I spend time researching possible group themes and activities and write down everything I think I need to know to run it like I know what I'm talking about. I write down the groups that I watch others do in case I need to repeat them. This makes me feel safe. The spiral binding is additionally awesome, because I can fold the cover over nice and just have this small thing in my hand while I am doing a group. It's like a blanky or binky or thumb sucking for A.T. rookies.

So, anyone need a group leader? Bring it on!


  1. Hi Art Therapy Rookie! I love what you are sharing in your blog. Welcome to art therapy. I especially love your coping skills box. Best wishes to you as you continue in your education and profession. Susan

  2. I know this is an old post but it's SO refreshing to read. I am currently an art therapy "rookie", running groups and getting ready to graduate in a year with my Master's. This is such a fantastic idea because I am also constantly asked to run groups 20 minutes (!!!!!!!!!) before they begin, which means I resort to non-art therapy techniques :( Thanks for this post - I am going to do this and also check out the rest of your blog now :)