• Lynn Cukaj

Art Therapy Technique to Manage Emotions

By Lynn Cukaj, ATR-BC www.CreativeExpressionsConsulting.com

Art Therapy for Children, Teenagers and Adults

We are living through a time of uncertainty and are often confronted by our own unsettling thoughts. These thoughts can be intrusive and become obsessive which makes it difficult for us to gain control of our feelings. What can we do to manage our anxiety during a time of uncertainty?


Many parents can remember feeling a sense of anticipation for the new school year. There is an excitement around getting new supplies and clothes, having a new teacher and classmates, and watching our child hop on the bus. Since COVID however, many parents are feeling apprehensive about the start a new school year. There is anxiety about the uncertainties and frustration about the circumstances. The excitement and happiness for what should be a joyful time is diluted with fear and other negative emotions. While it is okay to feel these sort of mixed emotions, it is key to know how to manage them.


Many adults live their lives without acknowledging that their emotions live on a continuum. Although the continuum fluctuates based on their environment and circumstances, most individuals are fully capable of managing their emotions. This requires personal development and a shift into a growth mindset. A growth mindset supports the idea that an individual is able to manage their emotions through personal development and dedication. I have worked with individuals on how to be proactive when it comes to managing emotions so they are better equipped to deal with challenges as they come. Emotion management is a skill set that can be strengthened through self-reflection, meditation and Art Therapy techniques.


Next time you think to yourself, “today is going to be terrible”, just remember that you are giving up ownership of your feelings and emotions to a circumstance.

When children learn about emotions, we teach them that it is normal to feel multiple emotions at the same time. For example, a child can feel excited, sad, and nervous about starting a new school year. Art Therapy techniques can help children identify their feelings and learn how to manage them at a young age.


Art Therapy Technique to Manage Emotions


A technique to help identify and understand our vast emotions is the following drawing exercise. This technique promotes the kinesthetic release of emotion and can have meditative benefits. You will be drawing lines back and forth and/or side to side while leaving space to identify your emotions. As always in Art Therapy, the point it not to judge your drawing, but to allow yourself to acknowledge and let go of any negative or painful emotions.


Materials:

  • Copy/drawing paper or construction paper

  • Masking tape or blue tape (make sure it peels right off)

  • Drawing utensils: colored pencils, oil pastels, markers, and/or crayons

Instructions:

  1. Choose colors that you either find relaxing or colors that represent the current emotion that you are feeling. You may use a variety or range of colors for this project.

  2. Place the tape on the piece of paper creating an abstract linear design.

  3. Use the different types of writing/drawing utensils to draw lines across the page and over the tape. Note: To enhance your meditative experience, incorporate breath work. Breathe in to the count of 7 while drawing across the page and then turn the direction as you breathe out to the count of 7.

  4. Once you feel that you have acknowledged and released emotions that are no longer serving you, remove the tape. In the white space, write positive statements or "I Am" affirmations. You can also fill this space with emotions that you were experiencing during the process and/or your current emotional state.


After completing this Art Therapy exercise, you should feel some sense of relief. Through this therapeutic process, you are strengthening your growth mindset, leaving you better equipped to deal with challenging emotions.



 

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