Spring has arrived here in Texas, so all things growing and changing have been on my mind. As someone who hates winter and loves gardening, I am always so pleased to see those first signs of spring. Even if the weather is still cold and gray for a few more weeks, I eagerly watch the tiny buds, shoots of new green, and first butterflies. One of my favorite things to watch for over the past few years is the blooming of the first bluebonnet in the patch I planted at my house.
Bluebonnets (and all the other signs of spring) are a symbol of hope to me. The harshness of winter is over and it’s a time of change, hope, and growth. I think bluebonnets are an especially great metaphor of hope – the seed must spend all fall and winter (sometimes two) being weathered by the rain and freezes in order to break through its tough shell. It needs the adversity of winter to prepare it for new growth. Even during a period of time when it feels and looks like nothing is happening or changing, there may still be preparation for new growth that is soon to come.
With the signs of new growth all around me mind, I wanted to share a quick post about a related art directive that I have been using in art therapy groups, with individual clients, and as one of the activities in my workshops and online course.
Art Directive – Create an art piece of a symbol of hope, growth, or strength.
I like to offer the variety in the prompt – hope, growth, or strength – in my groups and workshops so that people can choose which theme resonates most for them. In individual work, you may have sense of which one your client would connect with most (or which one you most want to encourage them to focus on). The open-ended nature of the prompt also encourages people to really think about a metaphor or symbol that is personal to them.
I recommend providing a variety of materials for this activity, offering 2D media like drawing and painting supplies and also a variety of 3D materials like clay, pipe cleaners, wire, buttons, ribbon, paper flowers, stones, and origami paper. This allows for more creativity and originality.
I have used this activity at various points in treatment when it seemed to be something that clients needed to put some attention towards – e.g., when they were struggling to get through a difficult time and needed to recognize the presence of hope or their own strength – and have also used this as a termination activity in order to recognize a client’s past growth and current strength as they move forward with life.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! Do you have other activities that you do to help clients connect with the possibilities of hope, strength, and growth?
Carolyn Mehlomakulu, LMFT-S, ATR-BC is an art therapist in Austin, Texas who works with children, teens, and families. For more information about individual therapy, child and teen counseling, family therapy, teen group therapy, and art therapy services, please visit: www.therapywithcarolyn.com.
This blog is not intended to diagnose or treat any mental health conditions. All directives, interventions, and ideas should be used by qualified individuals within the appropriate bounds of their education, training, and scope of practice. Information presented in this blog does not replace professional training in child and family therapy, art therapy, or play therapy. Art therapy requires a trained art therapist.
* This blog may include affiliate links (see full disclosure here). If you’d like to help support the blog without any extra cost to you, please click through on links and shop as you normally would. Your support is greatly appreciated!