Friday Arts Day

“The Healthiest Form of Projection is Art”  

(Fritz Perlz)

On the 7th of July I am starting a 6 week series of group Art Therapy Workshops which will teach techniques on relaxation and self regulation for those who are struggling with Depression or Anxiety.  Then again in October if July does not suit you come on board later in the year.  These sessions will go for one and a half hours on a Tuesday night in Warrandyte.   I am not a qualified Art Therapist, I have however taught art in a mental health programme at ‘Spectrum’ in Ringwood for 7 years.  Twice a week I took a one hour class with clients who suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder.

It will be a journey of exploration, companionship, and it will be a fun learning experience as we look at different techniques to assist the journey to mental health.  When you engage yourself artistically and use your imagination you can help regulate your blood pressure and your heart rate. Now, I know you’re thinking, “I’m not an artist” don’t worry, you don’t need to know a thing about art to do this.

One of the important aspects of this class, indeed any Art Therapy, is to explore materials and techniques that help to calm and centre you.  This can be different for each person.  You can also address physical and emotional pain by creating images of healing through colours and shapes to reduce pain (Huss).

**If you are interested in joining this workshop you can contact me on of course you would have to be living in the Melbourne area.  Email me for more details.

These are some of the things that we will explore:

  • Mindfulness and relaxation
  • Self regulation
  • Art Journalling
  • Collage
  • Vision Board

Pablo Picasso once said:

 “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

It’s no surprise, then, that many people around the world use art as a means to deal with stress, trauma and unhappiness or to just find greater peace and meaning in their lives.

hands oh help - touch

What is self regulation I hear you ask?

It is believed that the inability to self regulate is a cause of depression (Strauman).

Self regulation modulates your reaction to things including fear, reactive emotions like anger, extraversion, control of behaviour and attention spans (Strauman).

The inability to self regulate produces impatience, impulsive behaviours,  anger, crying, tantrums, rage. Self regulation and delayed gratification strengthens the ability to deal with stress, frustration and temptation/addictive behaviours,

One of the best outcomes of using art in therapy is in the area of self regulation.  Two aspects of self regulation are fatigue and having a quality of life.  Combined therapies such as art and mindfulness are very effective in combating anxiety and depression.  They help to self regulate emotions reducing ‘perceptions of fatigue and increase a sense of quality of life’.   Understanding ‘self’ and learning to protect yourself against ‘threat’ are two important aspects having good a quality of life (Boekaerts).

Why Art?

The idea is that art helps you to relax.  Relaxation training is known to be a stress reliever and helps to manage physical, emotional and behavioural problems (Davis).  Therefore relaxation through art is an act of self regulation that improves your quality of life and helps you to manage a large variety of emotional and behavioural problems. Behavioural problems are like:  stress, anxiety, anger, conflict, smoking alcohol and drug dependancy.

Exercises like mindfulness – breathing help you to relax.  Learning to relax is know to have proven effects on physical health, physical disorders, behavioural problems and emotional disturbances (Davies)  Learning to relax will reduce suffering in the conditions listed above.  Art making enhances mindfulness by enabling a mind set or flow of deep concentration.

Art also integrates the left and right brain functions creative neurological pathways between emotional and cognitive areas of the brain enhancing flexibility of thought as opposed to rigid fragmented thinking that happens when you are stressed or in trauma (Huss).  Art has been proven to change mood, capture negative perceptions and to access positive outcome and stimulates depressed symptoms.

This amazing piece of digital art is by Jiří Dvorský you can find his work on Deviant Art

This amazing piece of digital art is by Jiří Dvorský you can find his work on Deviant Art

Some ideas that you can work on:

The Art Journal.

‘The Journal is a workbook and playground’ Jane Davenport.

“Art journaling is about the creative process of pulling together colour, words and images photoas you wish on one page.  Unlike many other forms of art, it is not about the outcome.”

Tammy Garcia of Daisy Yellow.

Journals are mixed media in nature, so gather as many items around your house and craft store as you can to use in your journal while your write, play with colour and collage.

Make a stress painting. Choose colours that represent your stress and jab, scribble and paint your problems away.

Project: Write a Love Letter to Yourself

In your journal write a love letter to yourself mentioning all the things you love about yourself. Think about all the things your body & mind does for you. This is not a time to be critical of yourself; it is a time to appreciate all the wonderful things you offer to the world. You can write words of encouragement to yourself for the times when you truly need it.

Keep it with you so that when you are having a low day, you can remember why you kick ass! (Katie Oldenburg )

The Project: Vision Board

Take some time to jot down the things that you would like for yourself in the future. Take a look at where you are now and determine what from your current situation would you like to maintain for the future and what you would like to change.

Don't know who this belong to.  If this is yours please let me know so I can credit you.

I don’t know who this belongs to. If this is yours please let me know so I can credit you.

Once you’ve placed yourself in this mindset of focusing on your future goals, flip through magazines and select images/words that represent the goals. If you do not have an idea of what you want for yourself for the future that is okay! You can still do this exercise and get a lot out of it.

Begin to compile the images/words on the poster board to create your vision board (Oldenburg).  This is a great way gauge your progress by saying “this is where I want to be, so what am I doing right now that will help me to get to these goals, and what am I doing that’s hindering me from making these things happen?” (Katie Oldenburg).

If you are interested in joining these classes or would just like some more details, please contact me on

These classes will be happening on a regular basis in Warrandyte.  There are 5 places left for the class commencing in July.

Love Lisa.

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Love Lisa

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Recommended Reading:

Handbook of Self-regulation: By Monique Boekaerts, Paul R. Pintrich, Moshe Zeidner

Self-Regulation and Depression: Timothy J. Strauman

How to Relax: Enhancing your Mental and Physical Health through Art By Patrick Davis

A Theory-based Approach to Art Therapy: By Ephrat Huss

4 Comments on “Art Therapy for Mental Health

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