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The Art of Making Change in Your Life

Change occurs for multiple reasons throughout our life cycle. Perhaps the choices one is making are no longer effective in their attempts to meet their needs, or when others have noticed ineffective behaviors and the individual is influenced by how their behaviors are impacting others. To be open to change an individual must move from the contemplation stage into the preparation/ action stages (Prochaska, 1999). Change is only possible if the individual becomes aware that what they are choosing to do no longer meets their needs. When they reach this point they are ready to move into the action, whereby they seek treatment to help them find solutions to their problems.

However, what a client may see as a problem may vary from what a therapist may see as the primary problem. To help the individual understand how their behaviors are impacting them and the important relationships in their lives it is imperative that a clinician offers new insights into how the client perceives the problem. To truly help a client become aware of their ineffective attempts to meet their needs a therapist must build a relationship of trust, compassion, understanding, humor, and safety unlike any other relationship that individual is currently experiencing in their lives. Almost all individuals seek therapy or are referred to therapy because they are experiencing problems with the important people in their lives. In order to help a client the therapeutic relationship must be a safe place for discovery, connection, and co-creation. It is within the alchemy of this relationship that the client often discovers the “ah-ha” moment.

To help facilitate change it is imperative to work from the client and families strengths as Pledge (2004) suggests. “What is the client and family already doing well that can be adapted to help them be more successful in the therapeutic task at hand” (p. 97)? Interventions that come from the client’s frame of reference provide an opportunity to integrate change more successfully. In order to develop cognitive integration the information must be presented via multiple experiences that connect with the client’s intelligence strengths as suggested by Gardner (1993). It is essential to present information via multiple intelligences, such as verbal/linguistic (talking), interpersonal (role-playing), visual/spatial (creating art), intrapersonal (journaling), logical/mathematical (problem solving) bodily/kinesthetic (creative play), musical (creating songs), or naturalistic (collecting and grouping objects). Therefore, the expressive arts can strengthen integration of new information by providing the clinician with tools to encourage client change. Art allows the client to move into action by creating what that change might look like or how their precept ions might be different when they experience their situation in a new way.

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