Friday, December 31, 2010

Resolutions and Professional Responsibility

I'm a day behind on blogging and still trying to figure out where I want to go with this today. I have a schedule of things to write about in my mind and today/yesterday is a blank page. I feel like I should be writing about resolutions of some sort, but the mood strikes me not.

I am not a New Year Resolver. I see it as a set up for failure and disappointment. I am, however, a Birthday Intenter, which has worked well for me. Unfortunately, I have been forgetting to do that the past two or three years, because of this grad school thing. It's like a 3-year resolution that consumes all other goals and possibilities... a little... possibly... okay maybe not... it's really just been an excuse. I am still perfectly capable of other improvements. I forgot to set intents this last birthday too, but since it wasn't that long ago, perhaps a New Year Intent would be an okay exception.

And for visual appeal purposes, here are some randomly placed photos of an old expressive therapy class assignment about being/doing/understanding expressive therapy.

Here's how this relates to my art therapy journey. I firmly believe that all therapists have a duty to practice what they preach. And art therapists have an additional responsibility to also regularly feed their creative sides. I would not want to go to a medical doctor who smokes, never exercises and eats chili fries and valium everyday for breakfast, because if that doctor said, "Hey you really should consider blah blah blah for your health," I'd think something along the lines of "You're a stupid hypocrite" and that sort of thinking just doesn't foster a good doctor patient relationship. The same goes for being a therapist. If one is telling others how to care for their mental health and find fulfillment in life, one must be doing the same work. Along those lines, I often review anything that could possibly be lacking in my own self care and adjust as necessary.

But self care improvements make bad birthday/new year intentions, because they're not especially awesome. In fact, they're just plain BORING! Intentions are most possible when they are something you want to do anyway. Birthday intentions got me into yoga teacher training, riding my bike 150 miles for MS, taking drum lessons and even buying a house. They were things I already wanted to do, but might have put off without setting the intention. None of those things were necessary; they just made my year extra cool. Happy birthday to me.

As mentioned earlier, I believe art therapists have the additional responsibility to also practice regular creative expression. We're living The Dream after all. So today I ask myself, "Self, in what way will you be living The Dream in 2011?"

It's important to also keep in mind that I am graduating soon and hopefully (fingers crossed) getting a job, so my dream has to be doable and not of the buying-a-house caliber this year. So, five ways to live the dream this year...

1. Take a class at the junior college, adult continuing ed. group or somewhere in either ceramics or painting, because I've never had professional training in either and they're classics.

2. Restart my etsy store, because it helps keep me artistically active and provides minimal income (extremely minimal!).

3. Participate in this, because I just wanna.

4. Donate one quilt, because I just noticed these all sound really selfish and a little balance is in order.

5. Go on a trapeze, because Jung said, "What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? Here is the key to your earthly pursuits." I miss the swing set.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Collage? Eh, I don't know.

At the AATA Conference in Sacramento, Seena B. Frost, creator of SoulCollage was was one of the keynote speakers. Seena is not an art therapist, but some art therapists are into SoulCollage and it has an art therapy feel to it. I enjoyed Seena's presentation, was curious about collaging cards and ordered her newest book SoulCollage Evolving which I received two or three weeks ago.

So far, I have mixed feelings. First, if I'm being honest, I don't especially like collage. It's too rigid for my creative tastes. Mixing and matching the images of others feels creepy to me. Plus, my undergrad degree is in photography and electronic design, so I'm pretty picky about how these sorts of things should look and fit together. However, one thing that I missed in my own work at times was the lack of actually touching a product. I could create an image, a book, a poster or whatever and it was all just glowing pixels until someone else printed it. Although I put a lot of time and thought into it, I never touched any materials during the creative process most of the time. So collage allows for a little more dirty work. Touching stuff is fun. Add that with my search for combining easy with looks good and collage is worth a try.

Secondly, I take issue with spiritually-sounding language in my psychology. In one paragraph of this new book, I pick out these four words, "mysterious, holy, Oneness and mystical." I prefer charts and diagrams to mysteries and holiness.

Third, the cards are like tarot cards you make and read yourself. This also makes me feel pretty weird and I can't imagine using these with anyone in seriousness.

And now that I have dogged it, allow me to show the two cards I made so far.

This is my Source Card. Apparently, it is supposed to "point to the infinite reservoir of the possible." It's actually a carnivorous plant image I found in the National Geographic, but it looks really alive, colorful, active. I was going solely on appearances for this choice.

This is my SoulEssence Card. It's my own personal potential or "that spark of Source that was in [my] individual soul from birth."

So now that I've said what I don't like about SoulCollage, here are the pros... it's simple and possibly fast, depending how long it takes to figure out what images you like. There is lots of training available. It's a social activity that involves people getting together in groups and using their cards as catalysts for deep conversation, which is probably pretty healing in itself most of the time. Also, although it's very Jungian and kinda hippy sounding (this is published in Santa Cruz, CA, by the way, which may explain some things if you've ever hung out there), it looks like the intent for the questions and answers really come from the people who make the cards, which is not very tarot cardy at all. Also, I like the cards I made, even though it didn't feel like doing much and I have trouble taking credit for making some choices and using scissors.

I will give this a deeper try and consider adaptions, before I make an official decision. The jury is still out.