Wednesday, May 4, 2016. My art therapy training sessions with a “service provider” I will call Abby here in Fargo are going refreshingly well! Many aspects of the practice are coming up for us to describe through a very natural process of art production and discussion.
It is fascinating to be working with a very healthy woman! At the same time she is experiencing the process of creating images, many important aspects of “being a therapist” are appearing in her images.
I wanted to mention two linked and intertwined aspects of “being a therapist” (“being a healer”) that showed up in Abby’s art work today – 1) transference and countertransference, and 2) “the healer” archetypes.
Patterns and dynamics of therapy processes are about communication. When limited only to verbalization processes the details of the nuances in the processes are much harder to track than they are through art work expressions. Importantly, all aspects of the transference process work best for a HEALED healer. Art processes enable these patterns to become very clear and nearly tangible in image work.
For an art therapist countertransference will appear through doing one’s own artwork outside of sessions while focus is on session work, on the client and on the internal experience of the therapist. This is an “evoking-evocative” process which allows “awakenings” within the therapist that will in-form the therapy work.
In a healed healer those images can be trusted to be “echoes” of the processes a client is moving through. They can clarify for the therapist deeper levels of meaning, connections and movement of the work going on in sessions.
Art therapy, when done near its peak maximum potential, is a kind of poetry (poesis). This is a highly constructive and re-creational way of being in the world. Every second in a session matters. Every part of the session is a “telling” part of the image and speaks of the poetry of the work. All words and related non-spoken exchange signals are also part of the wholeness of the image being expressed in an ongoing manner. Every part is valued – and is OF value.
Transference (client to therapist) is an expected aspect of a therapy relationship. Countertransference (therapist to client) also needs to be welcomed, appreciated, valued – AND understood. These processes MUST be operating on the conscious level for the therapist, and art image making is a powerful way to bring this consciousness into focus.
Because art therapy (done correctly) is a superb medium of communication exchanges it WILL expose to light all that can be known of what is happening in therapy processes. Not all at once, of course! No therapy works that way. The art work is a specific record of the details of such a process along with whatever words are recorded in the poetic process of interacting verbally with the images.
Probably up to and into the 1980s the term “wounded healer” was still accepted in reference to people who suffered in their own lives but could use all of their experiences of suffering and healing processes to help others heal.
At about the middle of that decade a shift began to appear which demonstrated that being wounded as a healer was no longer enough — or acceptable.
As time moves forward in the evolution of the maturation process of the human race we will eventually reach a point where civilization no longer will tolerate anywhere on the planet what so harms people today (and all life here on earth).
I anticipate this to be a many centuries-long process, but we ARE moving in this direction.
A part of this process is a paradigm shift reflected in the healed healer archetype. We are ALL now able to work toward healing our own wounds COMPLETELY. It is now the obligation, the moral and ethical responsibility of those working in any arena of “being a healer” to accelerate their own healing as they ALWAYS remain as consciously aware as they possibly can where their wounds still exist.
My own pathway through these processes led me to step away from any role connected to “being a healer” because I now understand too much about what the kind of horrific trauma of abuse and neglect did to harm me.
I have NO problem at all with being in the educator role for healers who have healed themselves such as Abby has done. She will no doubt keep continual track of the state of her own health for the rest of her life to keep herself healthy.
Because I believe in God I believe it has been His Will in motion that has caused my and Abby’s paths to connect at this time.
The techniques and “theory” I am sharing through the art making and training process will inform Abby’s life and work in any way she chooses to use them. Meanwhile I am freed from ANY worry that I am teaching someone who I would not see as healed-enough to call herself “a healer.”
I KNOW that Abby will only do good for other people. I KNOW she will never harm anyone. She is too healthy and whole to do so.
Such a delight!
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Story Without Words: How Did Child Abuse Break My Mother?
It lists for $2.99 and can be read by Amazon Prime customers without charge. A daring book – for daring readers – about a really tough subject.
“Story Without Words is a forensic biography/autobiography in which the author, Linda Danielson, explores three generations of her family history to help understand the horrific abuse she was subjected to from birth at her mother’s hands. Her mother Mildred had a psychotic break while delivering Linda, her second of six children and the only one of whom she targeted directly for abuse. The delivery culminated in Mildred being convinced that Linda had been sent by the devil to kill her, and until Linda left home at age 18 for boot camp, she was subjected to unrelenting abuse.
“Story Without Words is a creative and compassionate exploration of early factors that may have contributed to Mildred’s abusive trajectory. The author seeks to give words to her experiences as a child abuse survivor; Story Without Words is unique in providing the words of the abuser and the abused in one volume. The author seeks to provide insight for others who were themselves abused, professionals who wish to learn more about the inner world of survivors, and concerned individuals who wish to help stop the storm of child abuse in our society.”
Tags: adult attachment disorders, adult reactive attachment disorder, anxiety disorders,borderline mother, borderline personality disorder, brain development, child abuse,depression,derealization, disorganized disoriented insecure attachment disorder,dissociation,dissociative identity disorder, empathy, infant abuse, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),protective factors, PTSD, resiliency, resiliency factors, risk factors, shame