Imagine the hours as a child when you ran free in the field barefoot with friends, or evoke the image of breaking out in spontaneous dance on a hill overlooking the water to music that awakened a joy you had long forgotten. Or, if you and your friends were anything like me and mine, those afternoons when the mud puddle and the sandpile became your canvas and the leaves and trees magically transformed into your pencils and paintbrushes. Alas, those are all distance memories and are rare sightings among today’s youth. Plus, with the schedule of the modern adult, where would one find the time or the energy.
These days there are so many gadgets used to help make our lives easier, there are apps for literally anything you can think of. All of them are meant to keep us on time and connected but yet apart. The excessive distractions tethered to screens are modern-day blinders that overwhelm the senses making it easy for us to forget the spaces that once gave us this selfless abandonment. This is ironic because it appears that it’s our societal norms that have led to the rise of people engaging in therapy. More and more parents are seeking services to address burnout for themselves or to help a child/ren manage anxiety for numerous issues. In recent years parents have also sought creative arts therapies as opposed to traditional talk therapy with an understanding that these therapies assist in transforming a myriad of concerns just as safely and effectively as talk therapy.
Bridging the outside with therapy is a natural pairing that can make for powerful therapeutic change. But the truth is, taking therapy outside into nature is not a new concept. However, its rebirth has been seen more in the last two years as a response to therapists wanting to continue to support their clients throughout lockdown in 2020. Taking therapy outside makes space for people of all ages to remove the blinders, slow down and reconnect with nature. Take a moment to consider what it would look like to have a creative arts session in nature. Outside among the trees in the open air. What’s more, Bermuda is the perfect backdrop for such sessions. Bring back those magical paintbrushes or the leaning sandcastle of Long Bay! Art therapy or creative arts therapies done outdoors take us back to the earliest human form of artmaking allowing clients to intuitively connect with the environment. For creative arts therapists, it’s a comfortable, natural transition.
So, what happens when therapy is taken outdoors? Taking therapy outside allows creative arts therapists to expand the psychological perspective while utilizing nature’s resources. The experience gives the client opportunity to acknowledge wounded or broken parts with either dramatic enactment, role-play, poetry, art-making with natural materials, storytelling, or the use of bodywork through movement, sound, rhythm, and the voice, all held and reflected by the environment. It opens the door to a wide variety of conversations that would be harder to elicit inside a traditional therapy room. Season cycles, native plants, and flowers along with different species are all rich resources for helping the client to connect to their own human experiences. This leads to the reparation of self and environment.
In the early 2000’s I would regularly offer group sessions for women and men on the beach that incorporated sand and found objects; natural and recyclable. These sessions supported them on their sobriety journey as a way to facilitate grounding. Additionally, nature walks to forage for twigs, and a mass haul of twisted branches from a recent storm provided the foundation for men to create miniature sailboats that assisted the group to let go of pasted regrets.
Creative Arts Therapies is a creative alternative to traditional talk psychotherapy. Instead of the client-therapist relationship being confined strictly to language, clients are welcome to create during their sessions through art, music, dance, or dramatic play. These forms of creative expression can function as a therapeutic catalyst for personal/interpersonal development, self-exploration, and mental health maintenance.
When it’s all said and done we love our modern-day conveniences. Hence the reason we love this world consumed with blinders of all shapes and sizes. But I ask you to take a moment to consider the opportunity to try a session or two for yourself or your family. Break free of tradition. Try therapy outside.
CAF has provided Bermuda with Art Therapy sessions in 2017 using a combination of indoor and outside therapeutic experiences. Along with Art Psychotherapy sessions, CAF also provides Music Therapy, Dance and Movement Therapy, and Drama Therapy via telehealth. Individual or groups sessions are offered. Our Creative Arts Therapy sessions are offered as counseling/therapeutic support or less formal, more curious ways, working with creative blocks… (re)learning how to play and reflection for self-discovery.