Self-care is one of these “buzz” words that we hear a lot right now. To me self-care is akin to putting your own oxygen mask on before you help anyone else on the plane; that is you need to put some effort into caring for yourself/taking time out for yourself before you look after anyone outside yourself. When you study to be an art therapist* you learn that when you look after yourself you can be in better service to your clients. This can be as simple as having daily rituals like meditation, dancing, going for a swim, making friends with your neighbour’s dog and taking it for a walk or watching some Bob Ross video’s and painting. Even if you are not a therapist you may find you still give a lot of energy doing what you do for work or with your friends and family and need to restore than energy so you aren’t totally drained.
When I saw the explosion of the so-called “art therapy” colouring-in books I had both positive and critical feelings about them. It’s great the idea of art therapy is getting out there, but art therapy is really something you do with an art therapist to go deeper and work through problems in your life. I see these colouring-in books as a mindfulness practice – you colour and it is relaxing, meditative and is gets you into this child-like creative space which is amazing! On the other hand I saw the potential to go further at home and decided to use my art therapy training to create an ‘Art as Therapy Workbook’ with activities for people to use as part of a self-care routine. Whilst I still wouldn’t label it art therapy per say, I do see it as a deeper extension of the colouring in books. The activities I have included are gentle and allow for you to explore processes that will engage your creativity (even if you don’t think you are creative) and engage with those images through questions.
So far the response to these workbooks has been overwhelming! I’ve sold out the first print run and have just printed a second batch. I’m looking next to expand into issues about body image, getting in touch with nature, technology addiction and more.