In Multimodal Expressive Arts, “Personal Process” describes the counselor or psychotherapist’s Expressive Arts work done in relation to her own lived experiences. By participating in Multimodal Expressive Arts the counselor works through and is healed related to experiences in day to day life. Through “Personal Process” work, the psychotherapist experiences what the client will experience and in this way is prepared to be a better therapist. Expressive Arts theorist and therapist, Natalie Rogers has emphasized the importance of having experienced the activities that we will offer our clients so that we are prepared to guide and support them through the process.
At Goddard College, Psychology and Counseling students who participate in the Expressive Arts Therapy Emphasis have combined Personal Process work with their internship work.
Here, Expressive Arts Therapy Emphasis student Casey Jakubowski describes her project made as a component of her individually designed Internship course:
“Meditation is a retreat I seek nearly every day. Over time I have encountered many different meditations that I have really connected with. Trying to stay true to the words and imagery of the works, I often ended up carrying several bulky books from site to site in order to share these works with others or to enjoy them myself in a new setting. This was an awkward process and I felt clumsy carrying the books. Unable to memorize so many details but wanting to keep the essence of the original work, I found a solution based in creativity. I created my own personal book of meditations, guided imagery, photos, and poems. Hoping to eventually suggest this project to clients, and genuinely excited by the idea of its creation, I began work.
“I found my favorite words from many different books and writings . Some were meditations, some guided imagery, and others were words explaining the meaning and lesson connected with the mindful task. This process took several hours as I had to copy and splice many sections or many works in order to accomplish the product I was looking for.
“After I had gathered all of the words I found images that related to the words and started to build
pages into my own personal meditation book. Juxtaposing images of nature with images of urban light fixtures made pages I found both visually appealing and personally connecting. I found the pictures of nature grounding, calming, and offering a sense of wonder or adventure. The search for inner wisdom, enlightenment, awareness , and a mindful demeanor prompted the photos of the elements related to light. I added pockets to the pages so at later times I would be able to slide in small drawings or poems or trinkets I made related to the meditations and work done in reflection. Finally, I created a cover, simplistic, and peaceful and then bound the book with thin rope. The cover boasts an elephant, an animal I have personal connection with.
“I have found this book to be a much easier and more accessible way of sharing meditations with others. The creative collection of meditations is much more inviting as it is physically less dense and more colorful than typical meditation books. Creating my own meditation book is something I can personally use as well as use with others which has given special meaning and purpose to its creation. Reflecting on the contents of the constructed book allows for additional perspective.
“The book incorporates five meditations along with instructions and notes explaining purpose and meaning. Looking at the individual elements of this book allows for reflection on the selections made, and allows the viewer to consider which meditations feel most important and to select the lessons that felt most relevant and connective. As with most creative pieces, the book’s completion offered many opportunities for self reflection and Personal Process work. Completing this project and reflecting on it before offering it to clients allowed for personal work to be done as well as helping me understand more about my own creative process. By physically producing the project and seeing it through to completion with intention helped prepare me for more meaningful work to be accomplished with others as I guide them through this process.”