Tag Archives: Joy

Is Art Therapy for You?

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Ever wonder what art therapy is about?

Art therapists are trained as psychotherapists with at least a master’s degrees in expressive therapy. Utilizing art as a form of therapy has proven to be one of the most effective ways to overcome psychological blocks – damaging mental blocks that often prevent individuals from reaching their highest potential.

Art therapists analyze the drawings of their clients in several different ways.

Drawings are used to uncover the underlying issues causing difficulty in someone’s life. I use a series of ten to fifteen drawings when I first meet a client. These drawings are used as a baseline to assess where the person exists emotionally. They also reveal unconscious material that lay at the root of a client’s struggles. These initial drawings act as a roadmap to treatment.

Art therapists are trained to understand which materials will be the most productive tools of expression. Often, when an individual begins therapy, they are ready to defend their emotions. They have a well-rehearsed story, but the drawings cut through the defenses and quickly reveal the deeper content. Art therapists provide materials such as paint, clay or pastels to foster the expression of what was previously being kept hidden.

I continue to be surprised by what comes up for my clients – content that has up until this time been suppressed. Often what’s revealed in the drawings isn’t what my clients think they need to address, but turns out to be the root cause of their struggles.

There is no artistic skill required!  As art therapists, we are trained to walk you through the process and ascertain which materials would work best for your course of expression.

It’s the pure expression of feeling, not artistic talent that we are looking for to begin the healing process. Art therapists treat the same emotional disorders and mental health issues that verbal therapists address. In fact, art therapists often work with verbal therapists if a client is blocked and unable to express their feelings verbally.

At the termination of therapy, we review the drawings my client created at the beginning of our sessions. There is such a difference in the drawings from the start of therapy to termination, and they show tremendous emotional growth, insight and healing.

It’s always rewarding to be able to see progress and to keep a visual record of a person’s improved emotional well-being.

If you are interested in more information about art therapy, you can visit my website: thedrawinganalyst.com or the American Art Therapy Association’s website: arttherapy.org.

Thank you for your time and happy healing!

Karen Stabley, Art Therapy (ATR)

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Here’s To A Happier and Healthier 2016

The New Year is a time of renewed energy and focus for many people. This is the time of year when we review our ambitions and goals. Some of us stay focused for a few weeks or maybe months, while others are able to follow through with their new year’s resolutions.

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I have found a way to help myself (and my clients) stay committed to new year’s resolutions. As I was reflecting on the new year and how to move forward in 2016, I was struck by four questions that came to mind.

I have tried to keep a daily journal, but find myself avoiding the task, because trying to commit to anything that demands our utmost attention and focus – especially after work hours – is simply asking too much! (That’s the key to following through with your new year’s resolutions – keep them realistic, and they’ll be attainable!)

Instead of trying to journal every day, I have chosen to focus on four key areas of my life that I will strive to improve throughout the year.

I was able to gather my thoughts and think about some of the lingering questions over the holidays, and then proceeded to make a plan of action. Ideas are useless without a working plan!

As I tried to organize these thoughts,  the following four questions arose.

  1. What do I want to leave behind in 2015?
  2. What am I looking forward to in 2016?
  3. What do I want to embrace in 2016?
  4. Where do I need guidance in 2016?

Here are some of the answers to my questions:

  1. I want to leave behind judgment of myself and the constant comparisons I make of my journey and the lives of others.  As a therapist, I have learned that I am not alone in this quest. Many clients feel the same way.  The more we compare ourselves to others the more anxious and dissatisfied we become. Social media feeds into this concept as we look at happy images of other people’s lives. Instead of  sharing their joy, we sometimes resent them for having lives that appear easier or more enjoyable than our own.
  2. Looking forward to 2016, I realize that I am really excited about the concept of SoulCollage. I will explain this in a future post, but basically, SoulCollage is a technique that helps you gain insight and clarity. I recently held a workshop with breast cancer survivors and used this concept, and was struck by the powerful results.
  3. I am embracing the idea that I would like to do a few things differently in 2016. One is to  take better care of myself. This includes more balance between work and downtime, and figuring out how to motivate myself to exercise regularly.
  4. I also realize that I need guidance and assistance at work. For me, this is the least interesting aspect of owning my own business, because it includes advertising, marketing, and updating my website. Areas that I am not very familiar with. I now realize that I need a team of people to help with this concept. I also need guidance to connect to who I am and what I want the next 20 years of my professional life to look like.

The point of exploring these four areas of my life has helped me form goals and allowed me to see which path I must navigate to achieve happiness and success.

I will keep you updated on my progress throughout the year!

Now it’s your turn to make a list of what areas in your life require a resolution. This is the best way to ensure a more enjoyable, healthy and happy 2016.

Happy New Year!

Karen Stabley, Art Therapy (ATR)

Please visit and like my Facebook page!

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

Email me!

Learn more on my Website!

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How To Recognize Depression

Let’s Talk About Depression

How do you know if you are feeling depressed?

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Let’s look at some common signs:

– Are you having difficulty sleeping at night?
– Have you lost interest in things you normally enjoy?
– Has your appetite changed?
– Do you feel less energetic?
– Are you feeling more negative or feeling sad all the time?
– Do you feel hopeless, helpless, or worthless?

How do you know whether those are just normal reactions to life  or something more serious?

The most important question to ask yourself is, “Am I having a bad day, or am I having a bad life?” If you can recognize that you are just in a slump and need to change your perspective or change your routine, then you realize that you have just hit a “bump in the road” like so many people often do.

It is crucial for us to understand that feeling depressed is not uncommon. You have no reason to feel ashamed.

Once you have recognized the signs and symptoms of depression, the next step is to take action. Managing our emotions is crucial.

If it is mild depression, try these simple changes to your routine:

  • Write in a journal.
    • Think of it as documenting your life.
    • Make a gratitude list to stay focused on the positive things in your life.
    • Do this for a month every morning or every evening
  • Try engaging with one person in a small way.
    • Talk to the mail person or a neighbor walking their dog.
    • Start with a simple, “Hello, how are you?”
    • Smile at a stranger or compliment their outfit.

Sometimes brightening someone else’s day can brighten your own day!

  • Think of something small that you can do for someone else.
    • Bring in your neighbor’s newspaper or mail.
    • Pick up trash in your neighborhood.
    • Help someone load or unload groceries from their car.
  • Coloring books.  You may have noticed that coloring books are becoming increasingly popular with adults. There are a variety of books available from complex patterns to whimsical designs.
    • Pack one in your summer tote, along with a few colored markers or pencils.
    • Use it to pass the time while you sit by the pool or spend a weekend on the beach.
    • Color at the end of the day to unwind and de-stress. (Don’t stress about staying within the line.
  • Take a walk every day.
    • Look around your neighborhood.
    • Try to find a new area to explore.
    • Say hello to every person you pass.
    • Give yourself a reward at the end!

If you have tried all of these simple suggestions, and you’re still feeling low, it may be time to call a therapist. A therapist can assess your situation and provide solutions that address your specific needs.

As a therapist, I want  my clients to feel connected, and I want them to walk through life with light in their heart.

The goal I set for my clients is to help them feel “Joyfully Engaged in the World.”

This is my favorite phrase, and I work with them until they can achieve this feeling.

It may sound as if I’m oversimplifying the issue, and you may be thinking, ‘She doesn’t know my situation. It’s impossible for me to feel light in my life, especially with these heavy issues weighing me down.’

Or, you might be like so many other people who try to hide their sorrow.

Many people find it difficult to reach out for help.  A depressed person may think they are “handling it” but everyone around them can see the pain that they are desperately trying to hide. Others notice the flashes of anger, constant sighing, withdrawal, lack of optimism, complaining, vulnerability to illnesses and a general joylessness.

I can assure you that I have heard several stories by people who think they will never overcome their sorrow and pain. Yet, I have witnessed these same people find moments of joy, and have watched them discovered how to reconnect with people in their lives.

If you are feeling depressed, I hope you understand that you matter and that you are important. Invest some time in yourself, because you deserve to feel joyfully engaged in the world!

Click on the blue links below to learn more about my Art Therapy Practice and Etsy Healing Art products:

Please visit my website

Pick up a coloring book from my Etsy Shop

Contact me: email

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