Using drawing as a coaching conversation
Did you love to draw as a child? At what point did you stop drawing? Or maybe you haven’t?
There’s much research about how therapists are using drawing to help clients explore aspects of their lives that they want to change. Being creative in itself has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate, lessen pain and nausea and reduce anxiety and stress. There’s value to be had in simply drawing, painting, or doodling without ever giving it a closer examination. Being in creative flow brings an experience of focus and a feeling of satisfaction. And, indeed, art is one of the earliest forms of communication and it’s clear that pictures can provoke all sorts of emotions; that’s why we visit art galleries and have pictures on our walls.
Using art as a way to communicate
It’s been extensively found that there is a lot of information available to work further with what’s been created such as size, colour, shape, themes, omissions, etc. With the guidance of a good coach or therapist, clients can focus on their creation and interpret what’s expressed. For example, if the picture is full of darkness, this may indicate how the client is feeling. Perhaps the focus is on a particular area of the drawing which might be of significance. Obviously, this is very simplistic, and it’s all subjective, but as a method for understanding how they are, it’s a very valuable tool. Often, drawing can help clients express things they can’t put into words.
Healing yourself with art
However, the work often stops there. And, yet, these drawings can be a rich source of healing too. Perhaps encouraging a client to consider changing the colour of part of their work can help change their perspective on their problem. Colours in themselves can revitalise good feelings from the past. For example, maybe the client had a very happy childhood in a kitchen in bright blue and yellow; perhaps adding these colours can remind them of those times, therefore giving them more resilience to deal with the current situation. If the drawing contains lots of red, using greens and blues can calm the brain to help it return to a thrive state, rather than survive.
In addition to colour, other aspects can be explored. Perhaps recreating the drawing with smoother edges and rounder curves can help clients feel calmer than looking at something with a spiky outline. What about drawing it with the non-dominant hand, what would it look like then? Is the picture in a border; what would it be like without it? Does the work have a texture? Can you change it?
Communicating with the subconscious
Whilst all of these aspects might seem insignificant, all of this information is being captured as images in the brain. We can feed the brain what we want it to see and as time goes on, it will normalise what it sees. The unconscious doesn’t distinguish between what’s real and what’s not real, so we can influence it very easily by adapting and creating images and drawings that can shift our understanding. Using images and drawing skilfully can help us make sense of our world and create a world that is a healthier place for our unconscious to live.