Instructions for the Task

Step 1: Preparing the Group to Focus

The leader comments on the group's "politeness," "unspoken feelings," or other concept that the group can accept as a truthful observation, and suggests that the group might benefit from using other parts of their brains to create a "language" with which to speak about what they are feeling. The drawing paper and boards are passed out, and the supplies are placed in easy reach of the group members.

The warm-up phase begins with the directive, "Make as many different kinds of marks, shapes, lines, movements as you can in the next five minutes." This will become a sort of "visual vocabulary" that is often a source of amusement and wonder within the group. Members usually enjoy seeing the variety of imagery within the group.

Look at How / Feel: Art-Assisted Affect Expression

Once the group has had the experience of using the materials and seeing what's possible, begin the more focused part of the intervention.

Step 2: Basic Directive

Pass out a second piece of drawing paper and say, "Allow yourself to become aware of how your body feels right now and find the color(s) that come close to matching that feeling. Using your arm and hand, make movements that correspond to the feeling and then make marks on the paper using these movements. As you continue to make marks, allow your body, hand and arm to create an image of your feeling."

After the group has drawn for a few minutes, ask them to stop and look at what they have created. Ask them to write down their immediate impressions of their own work, what it seems to mean, what it looks like, and freely associated words that come to mind. Tell them that this does not need to make logical sense.

Step 3: Beginning Articulations and Processing in the Group

After the group has freely associated words to the images, ask them to show their work and use the written language to describe how they were feeling while they were creating. A variation is to ask them to say out loud what they have written beginning with the words, "lam..."

Step 4: Variation and Extension of the Work

Prior to processing in the group, you can ask them now to fold their paper in half. On the front side "Draw how you would like to be seen right now (or, "How you would like the group to perceive you "). On the back side draw or write "What I fear will happen if I express my inside feeling directly."

This variation provides an even more explicit bridge between the internal, nonverbal feeling state and the "rules" the group members have learned about how to be and what the consequences are for being honestly emotional and direct.

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