Draw Yourself as a Tree

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I did this activity with my Cancer Wellness group last Friday. It went over so well, and I was so excited during and after the group.

Materials:
Paper- I chose 11×14, which turned out to be too much, so we folded it in half.
Markers, Colored Pencils, Graphite Pencils.

I introduced what we were going to be doing. I had done this activity myself weeks before, so I showed them what mine and talked a little about it. 
The idea is that the roots of the tree are things that give you strength, qualities about yourself that are key to who you are, or values which are the most important. The leaves of the tree are things that you want to change; things that you want to “fall away”. 

There were some very interesting results.
Of course, most of the individuals made a point of saying that they are not artistic. I reassured them that this activity is NOT about being artistic. It is not about drawing a realistic or literal tree. Their finished product does not need to be a masterpiece.
With this reassurance, they began with a little more enthusiasm. 

Because they are “normal” individuals, it did not take them long to finish their art work. 
I had not however, expected them to finish quite so quickly.

I asked them to share what they drew/wrote with the group. They were not required to talk or participate, and I made sure that they knew they could share as much or as little as they felt comfortable with.
During the sharing process, I saw how attentive and passionate they were about what they had produced. Most had quite a few “roots” and few “leaves”, which was too be expected. It’s sometimes difficult to admit, even privately, things about ourselves which we wish to change. 
However, the most disclosure happened when we talked about their “leaves.” There were a few things that were common among all the participants. They want to be healthy again. They no longer want to be sick. They don’t want to be on medications any longer.
When I brought the commonalities to their attention, a long conversation came about about their sickness and their road to recovery. They talked a lot about chemo/radiation, and what each of those processes was like for them personally. They talked about wanting to stop pain medication that they are still currently taking for any lingering effects of the chemo/radiation and their cancer. They ended by saying that they appreciated hearing each other’s stories, and they appreciated the activity and my direction and understanding. 

Overall, I must say, it is the best group I have ever been a part of. I have to admit though, there were times during their discussion that I wanted to interject and talk about my grandmother and what she went through. However, I bit my tongue, and held back, knowing that it was not my session to deal with my lingering feelings about my grandmother. I also knew that if I started talking about her, I would probably cry. So, I sat back and actively listened to what they were saying, learning more about them and their struggles, and also seeing their amazing strength.

These people are so strong. They are so passionate about life. They are living to the fullest each day. And I am so proud to be able to spend time and see their passion and strength. 

(Side note- I will be editing and adding in photos along the way. I have not had time to take photos because of all the different responsibilities I have with my Master’s program, as well as with my clients.)

Reflections.

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I’m in my second semester of at MA in Art Therapy program. The program is brand new; no one has ever graduated or completed the program to date. As such, things are unorganized, and I sometimes feel like I am not being taught and informed of everything that is necessary for my future career. I am also concerned that myself as well as my classmates are unethically seeing/treating/leading groups (as well as individual sessions) with clients, and doing more harm than good.
Although no one to my knowledge has complained, I am still uneasy. Coming from a background/degree program in undergrad that had ethics intertwined within the program, I feel that our lack of understanding of the ethics and nuances within this field is somewhat of a danger to those individuals we come into contact with.

Also, the creator and sole professor of the program has resigned and will be leaving at the end of the semester. While this is unsurprising, I am very concerned that a replacement will not be found. As such, we will just be pushed through, so that we will graduate from the program, and then be out in our career field with little direction or proper training.

This is not the focus of this blog. I hope to talk about activities that I am doing with the clients I am currently seeing, as well as reflect on things that I am learning/reading/encountering.
I am sure there will be some remarks about the program, but I will attempt to keep them at a minimum, as this will benefit no one.