Today in our society, there is a stigma associated with expressing one’s thoughts and opinions, especially if you are a part of the Black & Latino community. I was inspired by a conversation with a friend of mine that explained to me the Kaepernick situation that took place. A simple bodily gesture done during a symbolic ritual that caused an uproar in the nation. Whether you agree with his statement is not for me to argue. However, I will argue that he does have the right to EXPRESS himself.
- the process of making known one’s thoughts or feelings.
“his views found expression in his moral sermons”
Synonyms:utterance, uttering, voicing, pronouncement, declaration, articulation, assertion, setting forth
2. the look on someone’s face that conveys a particular emotion
“a sad expression”
Synonyms: look, appearance, air, manner, countenance
I became an Art & Dance/Movement Therapist because they are the two forms of communication I use to express myself to others and with God. There are times that I am unable to verbalize what it is that I am feeling inside of me. Whether it be happiness, sorrow, joy, anger, etc. It is easier for me to show people with colors and movement the sensations taking over my body. For example, my mouth may say, “I’m alright!”, but my body can depict that I am very annoyed right now through: eye rolling, deep sighs, lack of eye contact, folded arms, feet pointed away from a person, constant shifting of weight in my hips, and face expression.
I use my knowledge and experience to help others develop the same type of insight within themselves in a detox setting. I work with a population with adults that struggles drug/alcohol abuse and/or addiction. Over time, the more they use the substance of their choice they are becoming more and more disconnected with their body. For example, our body communicates to us when we are hungry or need to use the restroom, but when a person is not in a sober mindset, their awareness to these signs decrease. Now you can argue that some use substance this as an outlet to “feel alive” or on the opposite end of the spectrum to “escape”. Regardless, there’s a void (lack of something) that causes this population to self-medicate to resolve their desire.
The first question my clients ask me is, “What if I don’t have talent?”. I tell them it’s about the process rather than the product. Anyone can be successful at Art Therapy because it’s not about artistic skill, but rather the healthy expression of oneself through art materials. Art Therapy is not just painting and drawing, Art Therapy is defined by the American Art Therapy Association as :
“a human service profession that uses art media, images, the creative process, and patient/client responses to the created products as reflections of an individual’s development, abilities, personality, interests, concerns, and conflicts.”
This can include: Spoken word, poetry, fashion, graffiti, singing, dancing, cooking, organizing, jewelry, writing, music making, the list is infinite! I find it very difficult to un-see art around me. It is through these lenses that I enlighten others to see the beauty and the good in themselves no matter what mistakes or choices they’ve made in their life. I use a multi-modal approach to provide a safe, non-judgmental setting to facilitate personal growth and healing with my clients. This process fosters release, self-understanding, insight and awakens creativity and transpersonal states of consciousness. They are free to use colors such as black to depict anger or use lyrics to write a rap about their first time snorting cocaine. I accept them as they are with my arms and heart wide open creating a container for a safe space.
I will not pretend that everyday is nothing but rainbows and butterflies because it’s not! It is a challenge for me! From getting spit on by a client after calling me a N***** to having a client trying to stab me with a pen in my office. My clients cringe at the utterance of Art and Movement for they think that its arts and crafts time like they’re little kids back in kindergarten. Every day is a fight against the negativity, self-doubt, shame and guilt that my clients carry with them because of their addiction. I use my Art & Dance/Movement Therapy to try to reach them where they are at through their own likes and interests to help bring light and happiness into their life. My role is to hold up a mirror trying to help them see themselves as strong warriors the way God sees them.
These are some bible verses that remind me of my purpose as a Therapist and help me get through the day:
Exodus 35:31-35 ESV
“And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all craftsmanship; to make designs for working in gold and in silver and in bronze.”
Romans 12:6 ESV
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;
Ephesians 2:10 ESV
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Let all that you do be done in love.
I firmly believe that everyone in this world is gifted and talented! It’s a matter of accessing those skills/abilities and sharing your thoughts/opinions freely with the world. I hope that I have been able to inspire you to explore within yourself and have the courage to express yourself boldly!