June and July have been vibrant months in the city of Toronto, colors are not only showcased by the nature but is found regularly on the streets- World Pride was one of them. This summer has also been colorful for a LGBTQ group that I sometimes facilitate workshops for. The group is mixed in ages, sexual orientation , ethnicity and cultural upbringing. There were many differences, many similarities and the diversity was overflowing. They all had one thing in common- they wanted to use the summer months as a way to symbolize the process of coming out-some of them are already out, some of them can never ever while some are contemplating. Whatever their stages of ‘coming out ‘are, the group shared a sense of struggling with their identity.
So delving in suing creative arts, the group explored some creative art therapy interventions which they could relate to , especially the ones who were struggling with identity. I have used these activities with clients with disabilities, clients with gender abuse etc.
The activity “Inside Me, Outside Me” is one example, in which the client creates two self-portraits—one of the publicly presented self, the other of the private, internal, self. For the clients in the early phases of coming out, these may be two very different portraits. The idea of creating self-portraits has been used by many clients in art therapy as a means for externalizing feelings and qualities of the self that are too delicate to expose verbally This activity may use a variety of media or take different forms, such as a mask or box (using the inside as well as the outside). These portraits were used as a gateway for discussion and reflection. Another activity involves puppet making, in which the created puppet “speaks” for the client. When the process stopped, there were sighs of relief and a sense of letting go, which some felt were equivalent to coming out in a safe and non threatening environment. Taking a step forward, the group felt that their personal journeys that they had explored during the workshops could be showcased or just simply shared with other groups. So role plays, movement and embodiment were used to create plays which the group are working on for informal and private sharing in the future.
BY: Priya Senroy
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