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The Creativity Queen

Child therapy, art therapy

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Welcome, I’m Dr. Laura Dessauer and I use art therapy to help children and families creatively connect so your child feels happier and more confident. Although my family art therapy and child therapy practice is in Sarasota, FL I help children and families throughout the country.

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Using Art Therapy to create what you desire

I just so love and adore the new year. If you know me then you have heard me say, " you get a do-over". A do-over is a word we used as a kid. If you missed the ball while trying to hit it you got another chance. It didn't count, you get to call a do-over, and you get to do it again. I love kids because they really understand do-overs. You could spend half an hour pitching the ball and they call do-overs until they get it. That's pretty smart, asking for what you need. So I adore the new year, because it's like a natural do-over.

However, do we practice do-overs in our lives? Many of us practice "do-agains" instead. I looked back at my yearly journal entries and see many of the same goals, be more compassionate with my family, loose 10 lbs, etc. The resolutions are great until someone in my family does something and I get so frustrated or I sign-up to get 8 boxes of girl scout cookies, then I'm face with rewriting the same things next year. Does this sound familiar?

So I began to wonder why some really big things I set out to accomplish, like writing my book, happen and why other less difficult things don't happen. What I found was I needed some concrete outcomes, steps to take to get there, and supports around me to help me make the changes. Even bigger than action steps is the commitment I made to the change and how I decided to feel about it.

If there is specific area in your life that you are longing to transform allow yourself to focus on that one thing. Here's where the do-over comes in handy. You can change the way you think and feel about this by using your creative possibilities thinking. So identify the problem (one is enough), be very specific and clear what it is. Now go grab some art supplies, magazines, chalks, oil paster, markers, paint, whatever you have on hand. Sit with this problem and ask how would I be different if this problem was resolved, what would I be doing, thinking, or feeling? Allow yourself to use the art materials to express how different your life would feel and be if this was no longer an issue. This is your do-over. This is your map to make changes.

My collage hangs over my fireplace as a reminder of what I am choosing to create.

Art Therapy and Loss

When you lose someone you love deeply there are lessons beyond what you could imagine. Some painful and heartbreaking and some humbling and heart opening. Every loss is an opportunity for growth (within yourself and closer to others). No matter who you are you will experience loss in your life. A loss of a grandparent, of a parent, a sibling, child, pet, spouse, friend, or relative. Loss is inevitable and comes in so many forms- moving away from friends and family, loss of a significant relationship, divorce, loss of a job, changes in school, a loss of physical health, saying good-bye to someone traveling away, or having an empty nest. Life continually is in a state of change and loss is a part of the cycle. So how can we live with grace and compassion and open to these experiences when we encounter them (rather than shutting down, hiding, denying, or minimizing these most important moments)? I don't have the answers, but I am in the process of learning and this is what I've discovered. 1. Allow yourself to be in the feelings. People are fearful that they will become overwhelmed with emotions if they allow themselves to feel deeply. The truth is the more you ignore, avoid, or try to push through these feelings the more they will drain you and overwhelm you. Embrace what it is you are feeling and what it is that you need so you may gracefully move through the experience. 2. Give yourself time. There are stages of grief and loss and they do not unfold overnight. Please be gentle and kind with yourself and not to try to push though the process quickly. When you honor your needs and give yourself time to heal you will move forward with an open heart, knowing what is unfolding is in perfect time. 3. Allow yourself to detach from trying to control circumstances and outcomes. We all know the Serenity Prayer "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can;and the wisdom to know the difference." There are many things beyond your control when experiencing a loss and surrendering to what you cannot control allows a centering back to yourself and what it is you truly need. Being still and focusing on the "here and now" allows you an opportunity to let go of what you can't control and soften to what you can. 4. Support and love is the way through loss. There is an opportunity to open your heart and be vulnerable with those in your life during this process. When you are honest and allow others to be there with you on your healing journey you create deeper relationships. This has been the greatest gift in my experience and I am grateful for all those who have lovingly offered support and understanding in this time of loss. 5. Find comfort in creating. During some of the most difficult times in my life I have looked to art as a balm for my soul. Art allows a soft resting place for grief. I've used the art to honor those losses and those I have loved, as well as a gift for myself to help heal and nourish my soul. Here are some creative therapeutic activities you can do to help you through loss. Knit, sew, or create jewelry. These activities allow you to assert control over the materials, provides a mediative or prayerful experience of repetitious actions. Create a photo collage or scrapbook as a way of processing and honoring memories. Create art from clay or cement by embedding special items in the medium, or glue items on a box or candle representing your memories and feelings. I believe we not only need to learn from these experience for ourselves, but also model this for our children and families.

Art Therapy - Paint a Prayer

I'm heading to the American Art Therapy Conference in Dallas this week and will have time to taste all the art making goodies and learn lots of new tools and techniques to share with you. A few highlights of the trip will be visiting the Art Station to learn more about Mandalas from instructors trained by Dr. Cornell, as well as an exploratory class at the Arboretum, and of course my own presentation- which is so very exciting! I also hope to hear what successes you have been celebrating, both big and small. If you have taken time to be creative, said "no" to things that are not right for you, allowed yourself time to listen to your inner voice- all these we celebrate! Remember all moments have the potential to be creative, even at times when things appear stuck and overwhelming, there are creative possibilities. This may mean letting go of how things "should be" or letting go of doing things "right". When you do so, you create a space for new possibilities. Here's a delicious creative tip to keep your juices flowing- enjoy! Paint a Prayer Ask spirit to come and be with you. Sit in a quite place and allow yourself to feel your heart opening. Invite spirit to speak into your heart what it is you need to hear. Use watercolors, or other paints, to express what you are feeling and what was spoken to you. Sit with the image you have created and allow yourself to deeply feel and honor what it is you needed to express.

Gratitude - Using Positive Psychology and Art Therapy

I do love this time of year as a period of reflection on what what has transpired over the last 12 months. Although the year is always is filled with change, this year I reflect on the gifts I've been given- strength in being vulnerable, grace in the midst of loss, many supportive friends and family who lovingly witness my journey and accept me where I am I my path, my own deeper loving acceptance of who I am. All these glorious gifts I give gratitude for. Although many were discovered in difficult times, I give thanks for the ability to welcome growth in the midst of change. The feature article below offers some thoughts on giving thanks and how you can use your creativity to celebrate what you are grateful for. As many of you know I am a fan of positive psychology and use in often in my life and in my art therapy practice with clients. If you haven't heard of positive psychology it is a new field of psychology that emphasizes the strengths and resources of the individual. Instead of focusing solely on what's wrong, it encourages you to explore "what's right" in your life. Needless to say it encourages resilience and the belief that we are resourceful creators in our lives- meaning we can use our innate gifts to live a happier life, regardless of the circumstances. So how can you apply the principles of positive psychology into your life and help your family use these tools too? One of the basic tools positive psychologist have been studying is called "Three Good Things in Life". The research suggests that by writing down three things you are grateful for each day you can reduced depressive symptoms and increased happiness for six months (Park et al., 2005). How simple, yet how effective! So here are some simple ways to bring this practice into your home and encourage yourself and your children to explore gratitude. 1. Make a gratitude ritual- At dinner or before bed allow your child and yourself to reflect on what you are grateful for each day. 2. Journal- This simple tool will allow you an opportunity to reflect on the day and find the good. It's nice to do this before going to bed to allow your mind to think positively before drifting off to sleep. 3. Make gratitude art- This could be in many forms, such as marking an image or using collage to create what you are grateful for; or creating gifts of gratitude for others. 4. Create a Thanksgiving tradition- Encourage your child (or do this yourself) to draw or use magazine pictures to make place mats for each member of the family. On each place mat create an image of what about that individual you are grateful for (such as who they are, what they like, what they do, what makes them special). This is a great activity to keep your child busy while you are cooking and a unique way to celebrate each person in the family. You can collect them throughout the years as each person grows, and reflect on their changes and unique attributes. Having problems at home and need more support? We can help, contact us at info@thecreativityqueen.com Park, N., Peterson, C., Seligman, M. E., & Steen, T.A. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of intervention. American Psychologist, 60.

Quick Creative Tips For Positive Communication For Busy Families

Is your family swamped by too many things on the to do list, leaving little time for deep connections with those in your family? Maybe you've seen your child become upset and overwhelmed, but you're so depleted and rushed there is little time to understand what your child is really feeling? If children do not feel heard and validated they will express their feelings in other unhealthy ways, leading to possible behavior and emotional problems. So what's a busy parent to do? STOP, LISTEN, and VALIDATE (kinda like stop, drop and roll). When your child is starting to become upset, they give signals. As a parent you know that they are getting upset, and sometimes you've got to go and can't always attend to what they are feeling. However, if you take a few seconds and STOP you can shift the reactive response that is brewing within your child. It takes more time to try to get your child back on track after they have a meltdown than it does to STOP. Stopping allows you to step into your parenting power so you're not responding from a reactive frazzled state. Stopping allows your child an opportunity to self-regulate, so they can learn how to get back in control of their behaviors. Stopping allows you to be present, loving, and open to hearing and seeing what's really happening with your child; so you can help them express their feelings and they learn other ways to communicate, rather than being reactive. When you stop you can be fully present to LISTEN and hear what their needs are. They may need to express thoughts and feelings that are not related to what's on your agenda. When you model being flexible your child will also learn flexibility. You have to decide what's important. Is it teaching your child a positive way to communicate their needs or is it that they learn how to "jump to it" and be on time so that others are not upset. I know this is a polarized example, but I want you to think about what you are emphasizing as important values for your child. Listening and really hearing your child takes only a few minutes, yet the importance of this leads to health self-esteem, learning positive communication skills, and respect (which parents want their child to learn). VALIDATING means you recognize what your child may be feeling and thinking. It's not necessary to problem solve for them, or tell them what wrong or bad, or that you condone what they are saying. It just means that you get their point of view and deeply understand their feelings. When kids are being reactive they are operating from FEAR and CONTROL. Validating their feelings allows a child to feel emotionally safer and acts as a re-set button on their feelings. They were heard, they felt understood, now they can continue onward. Here's a creative activity to help you child through this process. If you notice your child about to loose control of their feelings ask them to tell you what they are feeling. If they are unable to do so or they are overwhelmed ask them to go to a quite place and make a picture of what that feeling looks like (Can you make a picture of how mad you are?") If your child chooses to share the picture with you do not make corrections or tell them they shouldn't feel that way. Listen to them and validate their feelings. Model this and your child will have a set of skills that will lead to life long success!

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