Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hope and Healing Through Collage

Hi, this is Sarah Halladay, a CORE Counselor at BCI Lancaster. As a facilitator of two weekly groups I am frequently looking for new ideas and strategies to make my groups interesting and meaningful to the individuals who sacrifice their time each week to join together with their peers. The use of art techniques in therapeutic settings can help elicit feelings and thoughts that can be difficult to verbalize. The idea of collaging came to me after attending a training seminar in which we were asked to collage an important experience in our life. This activity was quite meaningful to me as a participant, and I hoped it was something I could share with my own group members.

Group day arrived, and prepared with cookies to pique my group’s interest, I explained the activity and doled out materials. The group members began working on their individual projects, and gradually, a variety of conversations took place. Conversation ranged from the recent Memorial holiday, to reminding one another to be conscious of healthy eating habits, to the importance of maintaining hope in the recovery process, particularly when one has lost their footing and perhaps fallen.

As the work took place I was curious to see if my group members would fully engage in this activity. During the 45 minutes allotted to construction, I could see each individual fervently searching for the perfect picture or phrase; it was clear that members were engaged and recognizing the value of this activity. One senior member commented, “I feel like a child playing with a new toy,” her inspiration apparent as she worked. This inspiration became even more evident as we began to go around our table and share what the collages meant to each person.

Collaged themes were as varied as the conversation that occurred while they were being created. One collage depicted the cost of addiction and how concretely his addiction has affected the creator’s life. Another collage elicited its creator’s recognition of the positive changes he has made since obtaining sobriety and the goals he hopes to attain through his recovery. One collage painted a literal picture of the creator’s internal mood and struggle that day; the group discussed that this could act as a barometer of sorts for the client to reflect on in the future when assessing her progress and current mood.

A common theme of several collages was the physical affects of drug use and the importance of taking care of one’s health and nutrition. Group members lamented that this aspect of self is too often neglected when a person is struggling with an addiction. Personal obstacles and triumphs were explored. As each member shared their collage with pride to their peers, their thought and creativity shined through their carefully selected imagery.

This unique group of individuals from different ages, backgrounds, and stages of life were able to come together and share the common theme of hope for a better tomorrow through the medium of art. This group process renewed my belief in the healing power of group. It also further inspired me to continue to search for new ways to inspire and touch the lives of my group members, in the short time each week I have the pleasure to spend with them.


Aja said...

Good article and feedback about the success of your group discussion!


stageoflife said...

I'm always interested in the dynamic of people in various stages of life. Good post. Thanks!

Eric Thiegs
Stage of Life