Helene Williams - Integrated Arts Pyschotherapist working in Kent

Arts Pyschotherapist & Supervisor working in Kent


HÉLÈNE WILLIAMS


BSc BA MA HPC PGCE PGAD UKCP

Mark-making

Mark-making

This consists of literally making marks on a piece of paper with:

  • Biro
  • Pencil
  • Pastel
  • Paint etc ...

These marks may evolve into a picture or may stay as marks.

Using mark-making to express anger in a safe way opposed to bottling it up which can be damaging both physically and emotionally. Particularly for those who tend to act it out in ways which are harmful to themselves and others.

Expressing the anger on paper by scribbling with a biro pressing very hard.

Writing what you'd like to say to someone but felt you couldn't; which may contain swear words.

These exercises can be used as a starting point for anger work in therapy.

Drawing/painting

Drawing/painting

When a picture is made in therapy it may uncover a memory or awareness for the client which was previously unconscious. As a result of this 'uncovering' a transformation begins to take place in the mind of the client.

This example is fictitious although typical of a possible session.

The client had asked to work around the painful grief she experienced daily over her mother's death that had happened 15 years earlier.

Therapist: As you think of the relationship you had with your mother does an image come into your mind?

Client: Just as you said that I imagined a tree.

Therapist: How about drawing that tree.

Client: Draws the following picture:

Therapist: I notice that there is a girl under the tree. Describe to me what you think it may be like if you were that girl sitting under the tree.

Client: I feel safe and protected and it feels comfortable leaning back against the tree.

Therapist: Is there any way that you have felt like that before with your mother?

Client: Yes, I felt supported and protected by her and really miss that.

Therapist: I'm wondering what it would be like to be that tree?

Client: I'm not sure if I could do that.

Therapist: How about trying out the Tai Chi pose, 'Standing like a tree' that we've practised in earlier sessions as a grounding technique?

Client: I'll have a go.

Here the client moves from drawing into bodywork.


This led into sessions where the client recognised parts of her mother in her own personality and began to feel the support she'd experienced from her mother in herself. This also illustrates the process of grieving where one finds an enduring connection with the deceased within one's new patterns of being in life.

 

Sand tray

Sand tray

This technique utilizes a tray of sand in which clients create scenes using miniature objects. This enables a non-verbal communication of the client's internal and external worlds.

As with drawing and painting modelling clay with one's hands can trigger memories that have been forgotten, as it is a direct link between the body and our minds.

This example is fictitious although typical of a possible session.

Therapist: Would you like to choose objects from the selection to represent yourself and your family of origin, and place them in the sandtray.

Client: OK

The client created the tray shown left.

Therapist: What is it like for you looking at this tray?

Client: I seem to have put myself separately from the family. I didn't realise how separate I do feel from them. I also see that the object for my father is much larger than the rest of us and it's like he's looking down on us.

Therapist: Is that an experience that you're familiar with?

Client: Yes, he was and still is a very domineering influence in our family and I do feel very small next to him.

Therapist: Is there anything you'd like to say from your figure to your father figure?

Client: Why do you never listen to me and take me seriously? I wish you would support me rather than criticize me.

Therapist: I wonder what the father figure might say back?

Client: That will be a bit strange but I'll have a go.
I'm sorry if I criticize you to do well, I didn't mean to upset you.

Therapist: I'm wondering whether you'd like to change the tray in anyway? How you may like it to be?

 

The client chose a different character for her father that was smaller and placed all the family members together in a circle.

This followed on to sessions around the client and her relationships to others in particular to her father.

Puppetry

Puppetry

Puppets are useful in practising dialogues.

  • Standing up to a work colleague or boss.
  • Saying what you really want to say to your parent / friend / partner.
  • Making a decision when one holds different views.
Bodywork

Bodywork

Breathing techniques

Helps to reduce anxiety, panic attacks and increases self-confidence.

These techniques are a combination of Yoga and Tai Chi practices which include working with posture, sitting and standing as well as focusing on the breathe.

Drama through bodywork

Using postures / acting out a scenario of how we'd like to be within the safety of the therapy room.

This can help build confidence within someone who has a profound feeling of inadequacy. Help us practise certain scenarios in our life that we find difficult to deal with.

Clay/plasticine

Clay/plasticine

As with drawing and painting, modelling clay with one's hands can trigger memories that have been forgotten, as it is a direct link between the body and our minds.

This example is fictitious although typical of a possible session.

Therapist: Close your eyes and feel the lump of clay. Squeeze it and smooth it. Let your hands form it into a shape. Now open your eyes and describe the clay form to me.

Client: It's hollow with thick walls

Therapist: In your imagination be this clay. What does it feel like if you were hollow with thick walls?

Client: I feel as if I am a hollow cylinder with nothing inside. My walls are thick to protect me from the outside.

Therapist: Can you relate personally to how you described your clay form?

Client: Yes, I do feel as if I have no centre sometimes. It can be difficult to get a sense of myself. I often go by what others say about me so I can know how I am. At the same time I protect myself from others by keeping a thick boundary up so I can't be hurt.

 

The client had described a feeling about himself that he'd had as long as he could remember. This session led onto therapy that involved helping the client to work around his boundaries within relationships with others and encouraging a growing sense of self.

Sound-making

Sound-making

At times expressing emotions through sound can be more satisfying than using words.

  • Communicating how angry / fragile one is feeling through beating a drum.
  • Becoming aware of where certain sounds vibrate within the head / throat / chest / stomach can help build confidence in 'finding one's voice'.