wet on wet painting
Liquid water-coloured paints are used on moistened paper. Water is the bearer of all life and it facilitates the movement and intermingling of the colours as they create new colours. Form flows into being – and can dissolve again. The end product is relevant but not the objective in the process. Painting in this way allows a breathing space which is much needed in our breathless speedy modern life. The hardening tendencies of strong intellects can be softened and loosened while the colours themselves can add inner nourishment and the themes explored can reconnect the individual to their life anew. This process can be guided with openings for individual preference or more self expressive depending on the need.
beeswax and claywork modelling
Forming and transforming is the main activity of modelling with clay and beeswax (used mainly for the younger child). The transformation of a block of clay as well as the process of adding on and taking away has a inner reflection of our bodily processes of building up and breaking down, and outwardly in our ability to impact the world through our own doing or will, to bring form to thoughts, form to what we do and create in the world. Clay is earth and water, two substances melded together cold to touch, formless and resistant. To make it ours we must imbue it with our own ego. The more we work the clay, or the wax with our hands, the more plastic it becomes, warmed and yielding to our touch. Finding a balance between the warmth of working the clay when it is so unyielding requires a certain will which is strengthening for the ego.
Sandplay is especially suited to the child, though it is a powerful tool for the adult as well. It makes use of fine dry (and sometimes wet) white sand in a self contained large box. This creates a tactile sensory experience that can soothe and quieten the mind, not unlike lying on the beach sifting ones fingers through the warm sand. Small toys and objects from nature are chosen by the child or adult to create miniature scenes and stories which reflect aspects of a reflective but less conscious nature. Here, the child shows himself as he/she plays and the therapist witnesses – and participates, working intuitively using skill and experience to meet there. As a therapy with adults the process is extended into a more conscious exploration of the objects and their setting. Sandplay therapy is based on the work of Dora Kalff and Carl Jung and Gestalt therapy. It uses processes aligned with Goethean observation as familiar in anthroposophical circles.
the therapeutic story or verse as response
After a series of sessions a story reflecting the challenges and ways of the child’s being is offered. Or it may be in the form of a verse, poem or drawing as is more commonly the case for the older child or adult. How does this support the process? Story as metaphor works upon the soul of the child. It helps to build the imaginative connection with the listener. Characters, situations and journeys are seen as part of the child and the magical mix of all of these help to weave together a certain fabric that helps to support an inner nourishment. Imagery for the story is gathered from the sessions and from listening to the concerns of the parent, the child’s way of being is observed and reflected upon. The therapeutic story is not literal – there is not an exact matching to the child’s real life but possibly enough resonance ringing that is meaningful and far reaching. This can be deepened after the telling by working artistically with parts of the story that the child remembers allowing more ownership and living into. In this way the child or adult feels recognised and understood. This relationship is important and the space that is created between the therapist and the receiving one stands freely in the healing process.