Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Seeing the World with Purpose

Photo by Erin Channell

By Erin Channell MA, LPC
As an art therapist, I believe that a depth of healing and growth are uniquely reached through the process of making art. Growing up people are often encouraged to create things that are “beautiful.” At some point during the early middle school years, those who do not excel in rendering “beautiful” art stop practicing and engaging in the process. What a shame, because when creativity is not fostered, it is often lost. We begin to believe the lie “I can’t.”
            One of the best tools of self-care that I have nurtured is my own practice of art-making as a way to process personal issues and gain perspective in a quickly shifting world. This is practicing art as therapy (a way to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of embracing creativity) in contrast to art psychotherapy (art utilized during therapy to enhance the verbal communication between therapist and client).            
           Personally, photography is the medium that I gravitate to when the desire to make art surfaces. There is something transcendent that occurs when I am looking at the world through a lens and purposely observing details that many others miss. I don’t mean snapping some pictures with my iPhone (however, the accessibility of iPhones has brought photography to a much wider audience). I mean charging the battery of the good ‘ole DLSR and manually changing the settings to adjust for light changes, depth, and feeling the weight in my hand as I purposely walk around observing the world around me.
            It takes a minute to fully slow down, forget about looking, and to begin seeing. I believe that this process is available to anyone who searches for it. Take a different route to work and leave 30 minutes early. In these moments of slowing down, I begin to feel full and alive. This practice of seeing highlights the importance of therapy through the process instead of becoming consumed with creating a visually appealing product.
            Challenge yourself today to bring creativity to the way you approach your daily activities. This could be creating visual art or simply approaching something mundane with a new perspective. My guess is that you will be surprised by the new flow that often occurs when you bring your creative brain into your everyday life.

Erin Channell is an Art Therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) at The Awakening Center. She facilitates a weekly art therapy group and sees clients for either art therapy or talk therapy services. She has special training in working with children on the Autism Spectrum and adults facing a range of issues including, but not limited to, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and stress related struggles.