Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My 1st Week & 1st Post!!!!

Hello Readers~

Welcome to my very first blog post!

First, I am going to start out with an Art Therapy quote of the week & short reflection; then I'll move into an intro about the field of Art Therapy, Darcy Lubbers, and myself. :)


"If young people are not given the opportunity to work through their grief, they "may become stuck in their grieving, locked into damaging ways of behaving that can hamper their development" (Pratt, 1998, p.157). However, when dealing with pain and loss, there are often no words to explain the extent of the suffering- this is when the language of imagery becomes essential (Ganim & Fox, 1999)."

- From 'Expressing the Inexpressible: The Resilient Healing of Client and Art Therapist by Heidi Bardot. Source: Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association.

Well, first of all- I can't even begin to explain how much I relate to this quote through my own experiences. Depression is an ugly thing. It can lock you into anguish, rhumination, and all together self-stifling behavior. Being locked into "damaging ways of behaving"- as Bardot puts it, is probably the worst outcome of depression and prolonged sadness.

Depression - as opposed to happiness, leads to a 'narrow and focus' style mindset; while happiness on the other hand leads to an 'open and build' style mindset. So, you can see how depression is plausibly adaptationally inadvantageous, while on the contrary happiness is adaptationally advantageous due to it's nature to seek and build. This is why healing becomes crucial- not only to your mental state, but to your ability to literally survive and adapt in civilization and day to day life.

So, how does Art Therapy play into all of this? Bardot continues to explain "As is often the case, a grieving person cannot find the words, but the same person can choose a color that portrays the feeling or an image that expresses the emotions (Bardot, 2004; Malchiodi, 2008 J.E. Rogers, 2007; Seftel, 2006).

As is further illustrated by Darcy Lubbers on the treatment of eating-disorder patients with Art Therapy, "The art psychotherapist has an advantage in developing a trusting relationship due to the non-threatening nature of the art process. It removes the constant pressure for patients to talk about themselves." This simple fact- that Art Therapy removes the constant pressure for patients to talk about themselves is monumental in its affects. It is interesting to speculate how many people may avoid therapy because of this pressure, and therefor how many people may be relieved to know a different option is available that provides a form of healing without the constant pressure of having to speak about yourself.

-An Intro to Art Therapy-

Now, a little about Art Therapy.

The field of psychology is about 100 years old, and Art Therapy could be called it's grandchild- although it is a completely different field within itself. It is still being actively researched and developed today. It first began emerging in the 1940's and 50's and can be defined as the use of creative expression as a primary form of therapy; with creative expression taking on many different forms and mediums from drawing & painting to even sculpting.

The American Art Therapy Association defines Art Therapy as a "creative process involved in artistic self-expression [that] helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight." I find the primary appeal of Art Therapy in it's holistic nature, for as long as man has existed he has been painting on cave walls and expressing himself, so what better way to come in touch with our primal nature than to heal with artistic expression?

-Darcy Lubbers ATR, MFT-

My mentor, Darcy Lubbers, is an all around amazing and resilient woman. I am so grateful for her guidance. I find the serendipitous story of the way she came into Art Therapy completely touching and inspiring and would like to share it with you.

As a young adult at the age of 19, Darcy experienced one of the most difficult tragedies one can face, the sudden and unexpected loss of her brother who was only 21 when he passed. Darcy was very close with him as they were planning an extraordinary trip to travel around the world together just before he died. As you can imagine, it hit her with such force that she decided to take some time off from school. During this time she became immersed in her painting- hours would go by that felt like minutes- and in her expression she felt vibrant and alive, and so it was that her inner voice naturally guided her to the healing nature of the arts.

As a child, Darcy had always possessed a natural intellectual curiousity about life and the questions of human existence and science. However, during this time of grieving she found herself facing many spiritual questions, and felt a healing calling within her which resulted in her transformation into the field of therapy. She had a desire to work for the peace corps and was placed through their domestic agency V.I.S.T.A. (Volunteers in Service to America). They soon found the perfect match, placing Darcy as an Art Therapist in South Central Los Angeles, to work with developmentally disabled adults. This later led to her involvement with the Art Therapy Program at Loyola Marymount University (previously Immaculate Heart College). After obtaining her masters degree, she published her first book with Helen B. Landgarten, Adult Art Psychotherapy.

Since then Darcy has had her own private practice, conducted educational workshops worldwide, and continues an overall large involvement with the study and practice of mind body healing. She is currently working on a second book which will appeal both to the public at large as well as to her academic peers, concerning her research and work with body mapping and its benefits. You could call her an innovator, a survivor, or the embodiment of resilience and progression- but if you know her, she is humble and enigmatic in her energy- she is Darcy- and I am so thrilled & grateful that I've met her.


-Lisa Talavera (me)-

While we grew up in different generations and on opposite sides of the United States, I feel very much in common with Darcy when it comes to art and Art Therapy. I too have always been fascinated by questions of human existence and space and time, and came into pursuit to become an Art Therapist quite serendipitously.

In highschool, I did a philosopher report on Jung and was immediately fascinated by the subconscious and his study of the symbolism of dreams. It was not until college however that I discovered Art Therapy, quite unexpectedly. I had no idea the field even existed.

During my sophomore year at San Diego State University, I became overwhelmed with my generalized anxiety and panic attacks. I would have severe attacks that would build up for hours and peak for ten minutes. I could feel my heart pounding so loud in my chest I thought it was going to explode. I trembled and my palms became sweaty as I began to experience depersonalization (being detached from oneself) and a complete feeling of losing control. The only way I can describe this feeling is complete and utter despair. It was horrible. I began seeing a psychiatrist and taking medication for it, which helped slightly, but didn't make the panic attacks go away.

I took art classes as a child and always enjoyed crafts and projects but hadn't done any sort of drawing or painting since then. One day I had an idea to decorate my room by painting something on the back of my bedroom door. I played loud piano music, (my favorite song of all time) clair de lune, and just disappeared into my painting. I painted for hours and became completely immersed in what I was creating. It was calming and soothing and almost surreal. It saved me. It made my panic attacks go away.

I was flabbergasted that this was what finally cured my anxiety. Curious if this could work for anyone else, I began researching "art as therapy" on google, and found the American Art Therapy Association online, a small list of schools that offered a Masters in Art Therapy, and a handful of websites offering information on the field. I was thrilled, and so, similarly to Darcy's story, I was naturally guided by the healing nature of the arts.