Category Archives: Friendship

The Art of Listening. (Without judgement!)

Stop and Listen Blog post

When a fellow therapist told me about this quote, I started to reflect on the art of listening. As therapists, we are eager to give advice and make a person’s problems go away. However, there are times when this is not what the person needs or wants. Sometimes, one of the most powerful tools we have are our ears!  Listening without judgment or the intent to solve their problem can be a welcome change for some of my clients. This truly is a gift and we rarely give that gift to one another. Listening helps the other person feel like they are being seen and heard.

I can see this more clearly now as I reflect on the relationship with both of my parents. I remember always listening with the intent of fixing things for my mother. I look back now and realize that she just needed to be heard. This also reminds me of situations when my Dad complained about my Mother’s Alzheimer’s and my reaction was to jump in and try to find solutions to prevent her deterioration.

There are times when we just need to process our thoughts and feelings, and when someone listens it gives us the space to fully express ourselves. This process takes time and we don’t often feel like we have the time or are allowed to make the time.

It’s important to make a conscious effort to try this with a friend and really listen. See if this makes a difference in your own life. When you see the value of stopping and listening, it can remind you that you have the same needs in your own life.

Thanks for reading…and listening!

Karen Stabley, Art Therapy (ATR)

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SoulCollage

In a previous blog I mentioned that I was excited about an art therapy technique called SoulCollage. SoulCollage was created about 30 years ago by a psychotherapist named, Seena Frost. She was interested in combining creativity, insight and healing for her clients who felt they were not creative.

SoulCollage Photo

Art therapists have used the collage process in their practice for years. The SoulCollage process is different because no words are  involved, only images. In addition, the collage is limited to a 5” x 8” card consisting of only 3 to 4 carefully selected pictures. Each person makes his or her own personal deck of cards with no set number of cards. The photograph above is from my personal deck. I made this card when my mother was dying.

In SoulCollage we interpret our own cards. Even as a therapist, I would not interpret a client’s card. The images are selected on an intuitive personal basis and have meaning only for the individual. There is a phrase that is used when you look at the card and are attempting to glean information from the imagery. The phrase is, “I am the one who…” When we consult our SoulCollage cards we use the phrase, “I am the one who…” to begin speaking from the image on our own card and to answer our own questions.

For example, for this card when I begin with the phrase “I am the one who…”, I finish the sentence with, “…. is really scared about the unknown journey of my mother’s impending death.” This helped me realize that fear played a role for me in my interactions with her. At different times when consulting the card, the meaning and interpretation will change.

SoulCollage reminds us that all the answers are deep within us if we work to uncover them. Using SoulCollage can help us recognize these answers and bring clarity to confusing situations in our lives.

Sharing SoulCollage cards in a group or community is an important part of the process. SoulCollage brings people together in creativity, acceptance, and self-reflection.

This is just a basic introduction to the process. There are many more aspects and levels to SoulCollage. To learn more you can visit SoulCollage.com or contact me for an individual or group introduction to the process.

Thanks for reading!

Karen Stabley, Art Therapy (ATR)

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Best Frenemies

frenemies friends

Have you ever noticed how certain friends never seem happy for you when you accomplish something? Do you find that it ruins your day when a friend gets something that you were striving for?

If there is someone in your life who you to tend to compete with in certain areas, chances are, you have a “frenemy” not a friend!

A frenemy is a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry. They are people who you feel are more foe than friend!

How can you recognize or identify a frenemy? First step is to recognize how they make you feel when you’re around them or interact with them. How do you respond when things are going well for someone you don’t really like? Think of how a person responds to you when things are going well for you, and you’ll be able to tell if that person thinks of you as a frenemy, too.

If you are highly competitive and always strive to out-do someone and be bigger, brighter, or bolder, then this person is probably not a true friend, and to be honest, you’re not a true friend, either!

Observe whether your competitive nature drives you to work harder and achieve success, or if you are driven out of feelings of jealousy. Jealousy usually morphs into anger and resentment, and most of the time it surfaces when your frenemy is recognized or celebrating a success.

These roots of jealousy can destroy friendships, because they create barriers and inhibit closeness.  The first step to combating negative emotions and toxic friendships, is to recognize the signs and symptoms. Be mindful of your thoughts and words when you are feeling a stab of jealousy.  Oftentimes,negative feelings such as anger can arise after contact with someone you regard more as a frenemy.

If we are honest, we can usually recognize this behavior in ourselves. The next step is to try to be happy when someone else accomplishes something. You can only do this if you take yourself out of the imagined race or competition that you have set yourself up against with this person.

Others will fail and succeed in life, and your job is to be there as a friend, and to help celebrate them or support them in times of need. If you can’t do that, it’s time to end the frenemyship.

It be wonderful if we could celebrate each other’s successes, rather than express anger and contempt for one another.  I was always moved by the benediction that I heard at my Lutheran Church, and I believe that this guiding principal should be one that  we all strive to follow: “Seek to bear one another’s burdens and share one another’s joys.”

If we can do that, we can go back to being a friend, instead of being a…

frenemy

Thanks for reading!

Karen Stabley, Art Therapy (ATR)

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Visit my Etsy Shop for my hand-crafted healing items.

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