The Brave Lionhearted Boy

lion with quote One of my younger clients, Cam,* a twelve-year-old boy, lost his mother last year in a fatal car accident. She was killed out of state while visiting friends.

I’ve been working with Cam to help him express his feelings related to this tragic loss.  He’s been painting pictures during our art therapy sessions, as well expressing the anger, sadness and confusion he feels related to this loss.  Cam is insightful, intense, awkward, self conscious etc. –  and all these mixed up middle school feelings that have added to his grief.

He recently talked about feeling stuck, as though he had not made progress, and shared his fear that the heaviness and hopelessness will never go away. He expressed his fear of being the kid who everyone avoids or feels afraid of, because they don’t know what to say to him. I reassured him that he had been making progress, and that his feelings of grief will lift, not go away, entirely.  I asked him if he would be willing to try something different.  He agreed.

I told him to close his eyes and draw a scribble.  A scribble is a technique used by art therapists to help clients who feel blocked, it also helps with gaining insight into underlying or subconscious material.  After Cam completed the scribble, I asked him to make a picture out of it.  He drew a “boy running away.”  We discussed how this made sense, how it would seem easier to run away from his pain rather than face it. We also talked about how facing one’s pain is better than abandoning it.

Next, I asked him to close his eyes and put dots on the page, and then create a drawing from the random dots.  Cam completed this task and drew an image of a lion from the dots. We talked about the meaning and symbol of a lion.  I talked to Cam about what it meant to be lionhearted.  We discussed how a lion is the symbol of bravery and courage.  I pointed out how this was one of the darkest times in his life, and how the lion symbolized his courage and bravery.  I wanted him to know that a deep part of him revealed that he was strong, how he had the heart of a lion, and how I knew he had the courage to go on, even in the face of his unimaginable pain.

Cam's picture of a lion during our session.
Cam’s picture of a boy running away and a lion during our session.

The use of this technique during our session paved the way for Cam to work more closely with the image of the lion, and recognize the parts of himself that were brave and strong.

Try this exercise at home if you, or someone you love is struggling to find their inner lion.

Be strong, be brave, be lionhearted like Cam.

(*Names have been changed to protect the privacy and identity of my clients.)

Peace and blessings to you all.

Thanks for reading.

Karen Stabley, Art Therapy (ATR)

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