Internalized other interviews are a powerful Narrative Therapy practice. The therapist invites the client to speak from the imagined perspective of a significant person in their lives, living or dead. Often, this exercise elicits deep emotions and insights into relationships and values. People live inside of us.
At a narrative practice group on the subject of grief, my colleagues and I try a twist on the internalized other interview. None of us in the room are strangers to loss. There have been some very recent family deaths amongst the group. We decide that rather than interviewing a colleague who would connect with and speak as a particular internalized person, we will conduct the session as if she were the personification of Grief itself. My colleague plays the part impeccably. It feels as though she channels our collective experience. We are blown away, moved, and more deeply connected by the dialogue that ensues.
Welcome. Grief seems surprised. I’m not always welcome, she explains, sinking deeper into her chair. Ah, I nod. What is it like, to not feel welcome when you come to call? I ask. Grief answers from the heart. It is hard, she replies. She describes how out of sync she feels. The party guest who nobody knows what to say to. Hurt, alone, avoided, unwanted and cast aside. Trapped, but unable to leave. I understand though, I get it. I’m not easy to be with. Her tone is empathetic, compassionate.
My other colleagues listen intently, silent witnesses to her eloquence. Continue reading *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA
“To lose a child is to lose a piece of yourself.” ~ Dr. Burton Grebin
There is no greater grief, than when a parent losses a child. As a person, I had never truly experienced such a gut-wrenching heartache, until the day that my wife and I lost a child. As a therapist, some may think that I am trained to have “all the known answers,” but the truth is, there are no answers, quick fixes, or remedies to mend the heartbreak around the loss of a child.
The loss of a child is an inconceivable and it is an unimaginable experience. While my wife and I never had an opportunity to get to know our child by physical touch, perception, or smell; we had already bonded with our developing child.
MY DAUGHTER’S HEARTACHE
The day that we were told that our child had passed on, was the most egregious experience of my life. On this very day, not only had I lost my child, but my precious and tendered hearted Delilah experienced the loss of a sibling. At the time, my daughter was a mere 5 years of age, but her cry and her mournful spirit penetrated the very nature of my being. At that moment, I recognized not only the impact that this loss had on myself, my loving wife, but the dire impact that it had on my precious daughter. For me, the loss was like an ocean of emotions consuming my person, but it was further deepened by witnessing the breach of my daughter’s innocence. Furthermore, it was the tenderness of my daughter’s cry that pierced my heart and my soul. It was like I had experienced yet a second loss, a loss of my precious daughter’s innocence and my inability to protect her from harm that broke my spirit.
Continue reading *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA
February has been an interesting month for dealing with relationships issues in counselling and more interesting for me trying to find creative outlets for dealing with these issues.
Anniversaries around Valentine’s days are brutal and relationships are born and often put to death during this time leading to paradoxical emotional upheavals.
Working on using creativity to channelize the process of loss and grief has led me to plethora of resources, from journaling to using narratives to using music and drama to deal with these feelings. While one client wanted to make a romantic musical out of his experience, another one did not know what to do with her ten years worth of stuff. While pondering whether to burn them or bury them, store them or donate them…I introduced her to the museum of broken relationships where she could donate some of her belongings…..in order to honor that part of her which needed to be preserved and celebrated….
I think this is such a brilliant idea where we are trying to forget those reminders of the failed love or the unthinkable gut wrenching emotions and what to do with them, this museum offers a brilliant alternative. You can in fact become a donor and the description goes like this: Would you also like to become a donor? Recently ended a relationship? Wish to unburden the emotional load by erasing everything that reminds you of that painful experience? Don’t do it – one day you will be sorry.
Instead, donate the objects to the Museum while recovering and take part in the creation of collective emotional history. In order to protect your privacy all the exhibits are displayed anonymously…
I think as counsellors we face such situation where clients are not ready to let go but cannot live with physical memories either-perhaps they can explore this alternative and that way keep their memories alive in some ways, if they choose to… We celebrate dinosaurs, historical figures and commemorate disengaged events so why not celebrate a part of us that perhaps heals the past, deal with the present and shapes the future in some way-emotionally, socially, spiritually and creatively..
More information: http://brokenships.com/en *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA
I am digressing this month from sharing about what’s happening in the filed on creative arts in counselling in other parts of the world to sharing some recent experiences that I have been dealing with at work.
It seems that one fourth of my clients are dealing with grief and loss issues at some level .Its either directed linked to them or somebody they know.
I have been supporting children, families, caregivers, grandparents to process the feelings of transition, endings and closures in my counseling sessions and wanted to share some of the activities that I have found to be useful when talking hasn’t helped…….
Most of these are that what I have been taught, have read or have researched and modified to suit the particular client, depending on their ages and stages of grief.
Some of my trial and tested ones include:
Creating a grief or memory collage to a favorite music listened to by the person.
Creating a family tree painting using the handprints of family members as the leaves with wishes for each other.
Developing messages in art (if you could create a message for your special person using art as a form of expression, what would you want to communicate?).
Making a paper boat with messages for the person who has passed and sailing it in open water.
Using T-Shirts and other paraphernalia bearing the picture and facts about the deceased, to symbolize the life and death of their loved ones.
I found these to be self reflective as well as helping in the grieving process so if anybody finds anyway to modify and use them……please do so.
By: Priya Senroy *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA
The focus of therapists is almost always to help clients process their feelings as they bring their vulnerability into the therapy space. This is most true when clients are dealing with grief, whether it stems from death, divorce or other loss. But what happens when it is the therapist who is experiencing grief? How do therapists deal with their own feelings within the therapeutic relationship?
As an art therapist, I have struggled with that question as I’ve dealt with the impending death of a family member. My experiences of grief come into the therapeutic space through countertransference and because I bring my most authentic self into each session. But of course I seek support from friends, family, my supervisor and my own therapist. Since I am aware of my feelings of grief, I am able to use them to connect with my clients on a deeper level and to use them in a positive way. Art therapy provides an ideal way to do so.
By creating art with clients during a session, art therapists can support clients’ emotional growth but also communicate in a non-verbal language that they understand the clients’ feelings and that they share in their experience. The shared art-making becomes a means to create a stronger therapeutic relationship and it can serve as a representation of the joint work of therapy. Shared art-making can include creating a scene with clay in which both therapist and client contribute or creating a collage together which explores the feelings within the therapeutic relationship.
Art therapists also have the option of creating art in response to what the client makes as they experience grief. Some time ago I was moved deeply by the sadness that a client expressed and as I touched into my own sadness I felt my heart open as we shared the experience together. I made my client a small sculpture using clay, which I gave to her as a symbol of how I was moved by her gift of vulnerability, which she shared with me. Several months later that client told me that the art I gave her was significant in that she knew I understood how she felt.
Therapists’ grief does not have to be a hindrance within the therapeutic setting. Using art can not only help bridge the gap between therapist and client’s emotional selves, it can be essential when processing complex issues such as grief. By using creative methods, I have not only managed by grief expressions within the therapeutic setting but have used them to become a better art therapist. *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA