Sunday, April 22, 2018

Using Person Centered Therapy with Forensic Population

Recently, I asked on of the art therapists to talk about his experiences using person-centered therapy with forensic patients. He had used this kind of therapy in his past work, and was able to see progress with a forensic patient he worked with. He talked about the three principles of unconditional positive regard, empathetic understanding, and congruence. This led to a good discussion including the use of asking questions of patients, and using a variety of therapies when treating patients. We all did a piece of art work about a time we used person-centered therapy with a patient, and then talked about the experience. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Gratitude Tree

For one art therapy supervision, we created a Gratitude Tree. Each person cut out several paper leaves. Then we wrote down things we were grateful for, skipping the obvious "friends and family" ones. One art therapist was thankful for small health advances made after major surgery. Others wrote their favorite foods and drinks. Spa days, TV shows, and travel experiences were other items written. Then everyone helped make the tree trunk and branches, and we taped it to the wall and added our leaves. The tree looks cool, and we made an envelope with blank leaves, so more could be added. It was a nice self care activity to remind ourselves of thing we enjoy and appreciate. It also served to help the group get to know each other better. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Zentangle drawing

In April, a colleague and I attended a Certified Zentangle Teacher training Seminar in Providence, RI. Creating Zentangle tiles is a meditative drawing method that can help increase focus and decrease stress. It is easy to learn and has many applications. For example, you can create Zentangle-inspired art like greeting cards, decorative boxes, picture frames, or bags. Now, we are facilitating a group for the patients at the hospital as a way for them to enhance their leisure skills, be creative, and do something relaxing. We have also taught staff the drawing method for self care purposes or just to enjoy something artistic. For more information, visit 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Power Thought Cards

For supervision last week, I asked everyone to fold their paper in half. I asked everyone to create an image on one side of a problem, difficult patient, or challenging situation. After they did that, I passed around some Power Thought Cards (box of 64 by Louise Hay) with various sayings on the front and back. I asked everyone to choose one that resonated with them or related to the image they drew, and then create another image on the other half of the paper related to the card they chose. Some therapists drew about a challenging patient, other's drew about difficulties with other staff. The Power Thought Cards served as an inspirational idea or a positive affirmation. The cards are useful in groups with patients as well. I used them in my poetry group as inspirations for poems, and in my Visual Journaling group as inspiration for stress management and coping skills. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Snowflake Directive

For supervision last week, I had everyone cut out a snowflake. I provided instructions on how to fold a six pointed snowflake, and to cut small shapes out of it so it stays intact. After everyone cut out their snowflake, I asked them to write things on it that made them unique, reminding them that it was a combination of all their qualities, characteristics, and experiences that made them unique. This directive could also be used with patients as a self esteem directive or the snowflake making process as a problem solving directive. It was nice to hear what people thought of themselves and how they felt they were special.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Mask Directive

For Halloween, we decorated masks during supervision. The directive was to represent your scariest self. This exercise served to help the therapists be more aware of all aspects of themselves. When working in forensics with patients with very dark sides, it's important to be in touch with one's own darker places. This can offer some insight into ourselves as well as our patients, and may help us deal with them more effectively. Exploring what drives us, triggers us, or angers us can help us understand ourselves better, feel empathy for our patients, and formulate ways to interact with them. 

Group Scribble Drawing

During a recent supervision, we made a group scribble on a long piece of butcher paper. Each person chose a different color marker and we took turns making a scribble to fill up the page. Then everyone was invited to walk around the paper to see what images they could find in the scribble. Then, everyone could use whatever media they wanted to bring out that image. It took a few minutes to get going, but soon images were being pulled out all over. This is a good exercise to get people to loosen up and use their imagination. It can also be good for clients to address problem solving or boundaries.