Layers of Self – an experiential approach

a workshop on Art Therapy by Nitya Ramchandran

This piece is by art therapist Nitya Ramchandran, and it is an introduction to the workshop that she will facilitate at Der Versuch – a three-day open forum, where members of Stillpoint Spaces’ growing international community will be sharing their unfinished works, their incomplete ideas, loose ends and passions.

Human beings have made art to communicate and process their experiences since prehistoric times. Unlike language, art gives us the opportunity to express our feelings, hopes and dreams in a non-linear, multidimensional way. Ambivalent content can co-exist within the same art work and reveal layers of meaning that convey the richness of human experience. Relationships between things become visible in a very visceral way. The sensual and playful nature of the art materials allow us to access preconscious or subconscious aspects of our psyche quite immediately and powerfully. Thus, what is usually “hidden between the lines” can come out and play in the realm of art.

At the same time, the process is often described as very relaxing and settling by clients, as the art material has the power to receive, endure and contain what we have expressed, with the freedom to process it at any later date if required.

This experiential workshop will give us a little window into this fascinating and relatively new, emergent form of psychotherapy. Rather than the artwork being subjected to aesthetic criticism, art therapy provides a safe, sacred space for personal meaning to arise and take shape.

A short breath and body awareness exercise will ease us into the process of image making, allowing us to step down from our busy, often cognitively led functioning before commencing the art making process. After the session, we will take a few minutes to reflect on the images that have emerged and our experience as a group. No prior art experience is required.

This is the third piece in a series of abstracts, which serves to outline the contributions of the different presenters. Read the other pieces here.

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