Category Archives: quotes

On being one, on being many

Quotes from Essays on the Creative Arts Therapies: Imaging the Birth of a Profession by David Read Johnson

“I am one person, yet I am all of these, a drama therapist, a creative arts therapist, a mental health professional, a health care provider, and a suffering person. Each of us faces this challenge, to be one, and to be many. The capacity to integrate experience: our feelings, thoughts, roles, and identities into one whole, while maintaining an appreciation for the diversity and complexity of the parts, this indeed is the challenge of development, of growth, of maturity.” (p. 36)


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Shame Dynamics Among Creative Arts Therapists

From Essays on the Creative Arts Therapies: Imaging the Birth of a Profession by David Johnson (1999):

As artists, therapists, and (mostly) women, creative arts therapists have experienced a sizable amount of humiliation in the course of their careers. (p. 66)

To choose a career as a creative arts therapist often means stretching the tolerance of one’s family and entering a world where one is not understood or appreciated. (p. 67)

Empowerment also means carrying the burden of past abuse that we do not pass on to those who follow us: to support others, when we were shamed; to mentor others, when we were not mentored; to remain positive when what we experienced was negative. (p. 71)

Progress will mean experiencing the emergence of power from within our ranks. (p. 73)

In order for us to move forward in contributing to American health care, we need to be able to collaborate closely with each other; we need to be able to form a larger entity with greater strength and unity. (p. 74)

Institutional space is largely complex. Because of the levels and layers built up within institutional spaces, there are often many chances for dysfunction to form. This is probably true of any work environment, particularly a large work environment. Office politics happen, but who would have thought they also happen within institutional settings that are created to provide a therapeutic environment for treatment?

Institutional burnout isn’t a new idea, but maybe prevention can be explored further.

David Johnson is direct. He says what I’ve picked up on in my little experience as a graduate student. He puts into words the experiences of trying to form an identity in the field. But what I like about David Johnson the most is his ability to separate from the negative and move into the hopeful and potential aspects of making progress in the field by focusing on the importance of collaborating and providing community support for each other in our respective fields.

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The good enough mother

From Psychoanalytic Diagnosis by Nancy McWilliams:

A markedly nonnarcissistic attitude toward offspring informs the remarks of an 85-year-old friend of mine who reared 12 children during the Depression, all of whom have turned out well, despite borderline poverty and some painful losses:

“Every time I’d get pregnant, I’d cry. I’d wonder where the money would come from, how I was going to nurse this child and take care of everything else. But around the fourth month I’d begin to feel life, and I’d get all excited, thinking, ‘I can’t wait till you come out and I find out who you are!'”

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A birthday offering from my parents

Love yourself. Make peace with who you are and where you are at this moment in time.

Listen to your heart. If you can’t hear what it’s saying in this noisy world, make time for yourself. Enjoy your own company. Let your mind wander among the stars.

Try. Take chances. Make mistakes. Life can be messy and confusing at times, but it’s also full of surprises. The next rock in your path might be a stepping-stong.

Be happy. When you don’t have what you want, want what you have. Make do. That’s a well-kept secret of contentment.

There aren’t any shortcuts to tomorrow. You have to make your own way. To know where you’re going is only part of it. You need to know where you’ve been, too. And if you ever get lost, don’t worry. The people who love you will find you. Count on it.

Life isn’t days and years. It’s what you do with time and with all the goodness and grace that’s inside you. Make a beautiful life… the kind of life you deserve.

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Terminating my first internship

“In the past I rarely took the time to ponder my feelings on leave-taking or to explore the many ways in which one person could leave another. I limited myself to a simple “good-bye” and thus avoided experiencing strong feelings. Indeed it has been my practice to deny my feelings on such occasions. When it came time to leave my practicum placement in a small, special education school within a community mental health center, I found myself troubled. I realized that I had worked very hard to establish the relationships about to be severed.”

“At times … [in my work] … I became so caught up in my own needs that I ignored the children’s. … In my eagerness to show before our time was up how much I cared, my patience wore thin.”

“The [art piece] would serve as an aid to memory, and through memory we would remain connected. As I thought about this I realized that I, too, wanted to be remembered.”

[Franklin, M. (1981). Terminating art therapy with emotionally disturbed children. American Journal of Art Therapy, 2, 55-57]

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Notes & quotes from an art therapy student’s handbook

Rice, C. A. & Rutan, J. S. (1987). Inpatient group psychotherapy. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.

Hearing and understanding patients must always take precedence over the blind application of guidelines, no matter how helpful they may seem (p. 131).

Ormont, L. (1992). The group therapy experience from theory to practice. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

As strong as our impulse is for change, for gain, for novelty, perhaps no one lives without virtually as strong an impulse to hold on to familiar habits and practices, patterns that offered protection, or seemed to (p. 119).

We can’t learn the new if we don’t let go of the old (p. 120).

Resistance ‘resists’ insight and emotional change (p. 122).

All resistances promise peace as a way of avoiding some unpleasant truth or reality (p. 124).

Sarra, N. (1998). Connection and disconnection in the art therapy group. In S. Scaife, & V. Huet, (Eds.), Art psychotherapy groups: Between pictures and words (p. 69-87). London: Routledge.

There are times when an art therapy group seems an almost impossible undertaking; when everything seems set against the development of the therapeutic space and we as therapists are filled with feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness (p. 69).

…the image plays a crucial part in all this. …it stands between self and other and perhaps can be controlled. At least its fate is in the hands of its maker. It can be hated and it will survive. This is beginning to sound like the attitude towards the therapist and indeed there is a similarity (p. 76).

The image in art therapy is therefore, like the therapist, a container, but everyone can reflect upon it potentially in an ‘out there’ reality-based way, which may be more tangible than the shifting internal world of the therapist or other group members.


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