By Andrea Ortiz, JCADA Clinical Intern
When's the last time you were really angry? Did you say anything about it or did you silently let it stew? How did that make you feel? Anger is a normal emotion to experience and express, but people commonly suppress it. Anger left unchecked can turn to rage or act as a mask to hide deeper emotions like sadness and fear.
JCADA's most recent art workshop explored the topic of validating anger and guided our clients through a safe way to experience and express anger through a three-part collage exercise. First, clients cut out pictures from magazines that symbolized their anger. Next, they went through the magazines looking for items that symbolized what could be helpfulin acknowledging and releasing that anger. Finally, they organized their "anger" and "helper" pictures in a meaningful way on paper, creating a unique and artistic expression of their anger. The clinician-facilitated discussion that followed enabled clients to share their thoughts and feelings around anger and how they cope with it. This type of sharing is helpful to survivors of domestic abuse so they know they are not alone and can face daunting emotions together.
Validating Art Guidelines
from Managing Traumatic Stress Through Art by Barry Cohen, Mary-Michola Barnes, and Anita Rankin
1. Look through magazines to find an image that can complete this statement: "My anger is like a ____________." For this experience, it is more helpful to choose a picture of an object from nature or an manufactured item rather than a person or an animal.
2. Cut out the picture you have chosen.
3. Look at the picture that represents your anger and answer the following:
- Describe its texture, weight, size, and temperature
- What would it feel like to hold this in your hands?
- What sound (if any) does it make?
- What sound(s) would you like it to make?
- What would it say if it could speak?
- Describe the environment in which it could be found.
- Does it move or is it stationary?
- If it moved, how would you describe its rhythm, speed, and style?
5. Move the pictures of your "anger" and "helper" around the drawing paper until you find a meaningful arrangement.
6. Glue them to the paper.
7. Take as long as you need to allow any angry feelings that you experienced at this time to fade.