Art Therapy Activities During COVID-19
As the days stretch on during this pandemic, many people are low on energy and feel emotionally depleted—perhaps even hopeless. While we are fortunate in Australia (in comparison to what some countries have endured), we know it is not over. The fact that things could get worse creates a foreboding sense of uncertainty.
Relationships and inner turmoil might become especially challenging, as we try to make sense of our life without the normal lifestyle activities that living pre-COVID afforded us.
Technology does not feed our need for love and true connection and many feel isolated, empty and numbed out.
People all over the world are turning back to essentials and art is one of the activities that offers an escape … and perhaps something even deeper, meaningful and fulfilling.
That said, a perceived lack of creativity or artistic ability means many might forgo the opportunities that art provides. However, there is certainly more to art than being “good at drawing”.
Giving our brain the freedom of creative expression has a powerful impact on our wellbeing both in the short term and over the long haul.
For this reason, there’s enormous value in pushing through any perceived limitations to unpack the gift of art. In fact, more and more art therapists are becoming part of the counselling and psychotherapy landscape in Australia and all over the world.
Art Therapy Activities: 3 Ideas While Managing COVID Limitations
1. Postcard Activity
It is easier to confront some things in our life when we manage to create some distance from it.
So, cut out a postcard from a thicker piece of paper. On the front cover, draw whatever is bothering you, whatever makes you feel frustrated, angry, sad or confused. Take time on this image, so that it truly expresses what you feel. Then, on the inside fold, write to yourself about it.
Finally, put it in an envelope and post it to yourself. When you receive it back, reflect on both the picture and your words.
2. Core Values Collage
Sometimes we feel disconnected from our core values, as too many things make ‘noise’ in our life and distract us from what really matters.
Get some old magazines (recycling bins behind the newspaper shop might also be an idea), glue, scissors and cardboard.
Take some time to reflect on your core values. A lot of my clients and students like searching for them while going for a walk in nature. What are the things you feel strongly about? What do you feel good about when you see how others behave?
Look through the magazines and cut out images and words that relate. Take as many as you want to and don’t restrict yourself at this stage. Choose the ones that stand out for you among the lot. Don’t just choose with your mind but choose with your heart, emotions and spirit. Glue the words and images on the cardboard in a creative way, the way it just feels right for you.
3. Soft Touch Art Therapy
This activity is about finding sensory comfort when exploring uncomfortable emotions.
- You’ll need different cut-offs of fabric, textured materials and soft things like fur etc.
- Cardboard, perhaps a shoe box without lid, scissors and glue.
You could first investigate what things you like touching and check if the chosen materials are right or could be exchanged for something better. Take time to find the right things that bring you comfort and feel nurturing. Get rid of the things that don’t. Enjoy choosing the right materials.
Now, create a soft collage or use a shoebox (without the lid) as the surface to glue things on. Try intuitively what goes well together and where it should be placed. Don’t overthink it, your unconscious and inner voice is your guide. Be mindful where you place what and after a while, you’ll end up with a pillow-like sculpture or a very soft container.
Consider what painful events come to your mind and what materials would help intuitively to soften the blow, to provide comfort, support and healing and to create a safety pad where you can rest for a while.
Robert GrayDirector and Senior Lecturer at CECAT
Registered Art Therapist and Psychologist
MA A. Th., AThR; B. Soc. Sc. (Psych.) (Hons.), MAPS.; BA. Theol. (Hons), MA Theol.
A highly regarded art therapy lecturer from Germany, Robert Gray has become a much sought-after art therapy lecturer and practising art therapist in Australia. His unique approach spanning psychodynamic, humanistic, spiritual and cognitive behavioural frameworks has distinguished him as a thought leader who is frequently invited to present at conferences in Australia and abroad.
Trained overseas and multilingual, German-born Robert shares the benefits of his international affiliations and access to cutting-edge research published in various languages with his students and readers. Robert is a professional member of the Australian and New Zealand Arts Therapy Association (ANZATA) and the Australian Psychological Society (APS).