Coaching and Expressive Arts: Going Deeper Than Words
“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” –Carl Jung
There is a silent language within all of us that reveals the truth of our thoughts, feelings, and emotions far more fluently than words. That language is imagery.
Explaining in words how you feel when you lose a loved one or when you fall in love is for most of us an impossible task. Words simply can’t describe such an experience. But images can – and with a depth that words cannot achieve.
Think of all the images and video available through social media and recall something that evoked a smile, a chuckle, or even a sadness within you.
On Facebook this past weekend, a pregnant (and ready to deliver) friend of mine shared pictures from a photo shoot with her husband. She posted 64 images and I looked at each and every one of them! These images were tender as she wrapped her arms around her full belly.
In that moment, a warmth swelled within me. This felt sense, this remembering, takes me back to my own pregnancies and the precious feelings of carrying life within my body. For someone else, however, it may evoke a feeling of sadness or a bittersweet moment.
When we allow imagery and symbols to connect with the felt senses of our bodies, new we reconnect with a part of ourselves – a memory, a forgotten moment, or an unfulfilled dream. We may see the situation differently than when we first experienced it and new meanings may arise.
The unconscious mind has its own language of imagery, symbols, dreams, and metaphors and while we may be regularly touched by its power, many (outside of professional arts), have never learned how to communicate in this language.
My approach to coaching is inside-out by helping clients to learn this unconscious language and connect with their forgotten dreams, their unlived potential, and their hidden talents. This information is difficult for the linear thinking brain as the thinking mind often wants to interfere by rationalizing and distracting us from knowing these deeper layers of ourselves.
My journey with the expressive arts began about 10 years ago when I discovered Julia Cameron and “The Artist’s Way”, and SARK and the wonderful, colorful books she produces. This interest became merged with psychological science when I attended the Gestalt Training program in 2012. My life continues to change as this language expands and evolves within me.
Through Women Connected programs, I began incorporating creative exercises to experiment with the impact of creative approaches and it was profound. Insights that may have taken years to acquire through coaching conversations alone came within a few sessions.
Since this beginning in 2015, I continue to add creative exercises, journals, and workbooks. This summer we launched our first expressive arts program called The Feminine Shadow and we are planning new expressive arts programs for the Fall.
Expressive Arts programs support coaching clients in learning this language of their unconscious minds while making sense of their worlds. It is a complementary process to the traditional coaching conversation and when we combine the felt senses of the body, emotional healing and transformation are within reach.
Through expressive arts, we incorporate the mind-body and the split-brain functioning into the coaching process. When used with coaching, expressive arts can help clients release stress-producing emotions, get in touch with feelings, resolve inner conflicts, and give voice to their soul. Imagery is a language inherent in each individual and is the body-mind’s first or primary means of inner communication.
Here are a few of the expressive arts modalities we incorporate into Women Connected programs:
- Women Connected Circles combine ancient practices of gathering and sharing with modern technology and social tools. The Circle is the container in which we come together to share our journeys. We use core practices and honor traditions based on the specific Circle program. Here we see and are seen. The Circle provides safety and mutual respect and it is a crucible for learning.
- Storytelling & Visual Narrative is a form of exploring self through image, word, symbol, metaphor, object and landscape. This form can help to identify one’s experience to story, history and intuitive knowing, unfolding new experience and connection to the larger story of humanity as the process unfolds.
- Inner Journey of Art Journaling incorporates paint, collage, ephemera, photographic art and objects on paper and other surfaces with the felt senses of the body. It can be approached in various forms and is a useful process to add layers, combining image and words.
- Collage Cards are a psycho-spiritual process of creating your own personal collages of wisdom cards that are reflections of light and shadow, parts of self, guides and influences, and invites you to explore your many facets of self and archetypal energies.
- Guided Visualization and Meditative Portals are valuable additions to the creative process and depth coaching. Bringing symbols into consciousness invites clarity, curiosity and perspective. Techniques that we offer include shamanic and contemplative journey process, and parts work; all of which may be incorporated into your art.
- Creative and Intuitive Writing/Voicing Practices will deepen your insight and understanding. Engaging in writing, journaling and poetics in written, voiced and gestalt dialogue forms of expression will complement your creative process. Working with prompts, dialogue and storytelling offers perspective and integration.
To learn about our approach to the expressive arts, consider our new creative program called The Inner Journey of Art Journaling an online course beginning October 17th.
I hope you’ll stay tuned as the journey continues and join our mailing list receive some goodies including a 10% discount in the Women Connected e-shop.