By Lynn Cukaj, ATR-BC, MHC-LP www.CreativeExpressionsConsulting.com
Art Therapy for Children, Teenagers and Adults
Positive affirmations are a way for us to engage in positive self-talk and self-compassion. When we show ourselves compassion, we support our mental health to better combat life's challenges. Typically, individuals become self-critical when emotional turmoil occurs and those self-critical thoughts cause limitations in our personal growth. Instead, we need to give ourselves permission to fail at something, to forget something, or to feel and understand our emotions as they happen. During difficult times we need to acknowledge our humanness and listen to our positive inner voice. To encourage positive thoughts, we can incorporate art therapy and the practice of mindfulness into our lives. Visually depicting our thoughts can be very powerful for improving our self-esteem and self-image.
The creative process improves and enhances all aspects of our lives: physical, mental, and emotional. An Art Therapy project that helps us understand our feelings and emotions while incorporating mindfulness is the creation of a Feelings Cube.
Using mindfulness to identify and illustrate our feelings strengthens our mental agility by giving us the opportunity to explore the creative process for healing and learning. Through this Art Therapy project, we are able to extract emotions that cloud our minds and visualize them on paper using words, colors, and designs.
Let's begin to understand and express our feelings by creating a Feelings Cube! To start, you will need the Feelings Cube template (below), a printer, scissors, tape or glue and color markers. The Feelings Cube template is best printed on card stock but printer paper also works. You may download the Creative Expressions Emotions Cube template (PDF) here.
Once all of the squares are filled, use scissors to cut out along the solid lines and then tape or glue the cube together. Packing tape can also be used to cover the entire cube once it's complete to protect your work.
Uses for the Emotions Cube:
Self-reflection: Roll the cube and whatever feeling/s it lands on, reflect on a time that you felt that way and what happened to make you feel those emotions. It that feeling is negative, identify what you did to cope with the feeling. Could you have coped with it in a better way?
You can also make two cubes: one with emotions and one with coping skills. Roll each and see how the coping skill can help with the emotion or vice versa. Any positive discussion about emotion regulation will help model the appropriate coping skill and increase self-esteem and self-efficacy in managing our emotions and behavior.
Working with Children:
Children may want to draw faces to show their feelings. This can help them learn how to identify their feelings and how to express themselves. This is a great way to teach children about emotion regulation, frustration tolerance, and impulse control. Once the cube is assembled, use the cube as a game with your child. Roll the cube and whatever feeling/s it lands on, you or your child can talk about a time you felt that way and what happened to make you feel that way. If that feeling is negative, explain what you did to cope with the feeling and how you could do things differently next time.
Enjoy! If you have any questions or would like to reach out to me personally, please feel free to use the contact form on the Creative Expressions website.
The inspiration behind the Feelings Cube is from an article by Janis Spitzer in School Arts (April 2001). The original purpose was used to work with children to help them portray their feelings. This was to show the range of emotions that one can experience. This is also an excellent use of this cube.
For more therapeutic activities and resources on how to incorporate Art Therapy into your life, read more from Lynn's Creative Expressions Blog.
Learn more about Art Therapy and Lynn Cukaj, Board Certified Art Therapist here: www.CreativeExpressionsConsulting.com
Spitzer, J. (2001). Emotion cube. SchoolArts, 50-51.