Heal yourself creatively
Forget the traditional techniques of de-stressing. Gen-Y finds new creative breaks to cope with stress
Stress is everywhere; at work, school, and even at home. Dealing with stress comes naturally to some, and requires creative solutions for others. By intensely focusing on a hobby, game, book or movie, one may tend to give less thought to problems. But dealing with it effectively requires a bit more effort and planning, as so believe the therapists.
We caught up with some city-based creative therapists who talk about some of the new ways that are currently being used to cope with this issue.
Anubha Doshi: Dance Therapy
When Anubha Doshi, owner of Artsphere, started dancing at the age of eight, she did not know that she would take it up as a profession. After graduating in English Literature and a Masters in Communication Management, Anubha found her true calling in Psychology and Dance Therapy. “At the age of 24, I attended a workshop conducted by Tripura Kashyap, a pioneer of dance therapy. That was my first brush with how I could combine my passion for dancing with healing others. I left my corporate job and started pursuing further studies in psychology to become a therapist,” she shares.
Dance therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses the body’s natural movement. It consists of activities like warm-ups, mirroring, dancing with props, moving through space, trust exercises, improvisation, body rhythms and hand-gestures which are therapeutic as well as fun. “People are generally scared of the word therapy and there is the stigma of being mentally ill attached to it. That’s the first hinderance. But now, people are opening up to the various concepts of therapy and are ready to experiment with the different forms,” she says.
She believes that dancing helps gain self-esteem and confidence, while sharing thoughts, ideas and stories through one’s body. “We have seen people’s lives change in our workshops, where they even change the course of their career. They have an emotional catharsis, and understand where they are stuck in life. They have realised the real path of their life and have started walking on the path of healing others,” she adds.
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Anshuma Kshetrapal: Drama Therapy
Anshuma was always a ‘nautanki’. Her actions, gestures, expressions, and body helped her emote and express herself more than words. She has been dancing and performing in plays since she was just three years old, so the choice for her was either drama-therapy or stand-up comedy. “I cannot even remember the first time I performed, because I have been inclined to the arts since I was born. My parents are doctors, but liberal and artsy folk. They have always preferred plays to movies, and encouraged the arts. They believed in making sure that I took part in everything and anything that caught my fancy,” she says.
After she finished her masters in Psychosocial Clinical Studies, she attended a movement therapy workshop. She quickly realised that her body had much more to say than her words were permitting. “In fact, my body had emotional memory and when I accessed it, I saw that it held flashbacks to forgotten experiences and gave me deeper insight than words. I took further training in Creative Arts Therapy and then left for London to do another Masters programme, this time in Drama and Movement Therapy,” she shares.
Just like any psychotherapy, a drama therapy session varies greatly between individuals and also from practitioners. A session includes breathing and relaxation activities, psychodrama, imaginary role-play, story-making, storytelling, enactments, visual art reflections, verbal processing and movement activities. There are sessions where an individual can only process their thoughts and feelings verbally, and not choose any artistic expression. “Drama and Movement Therapy is for everyone, whether you are an adult with work stress or a child with learning difficulties. The beauty of working with metaphor, stories, movement and drama is that it is non-confrontational and indirect. Yet, it could be revelatory of the unconscious processes and patterns of an individual in their choice of role, dialogue, movement,” she explains.
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Susan Bullough Khare: Art Therapy
Susan Bullough Khare received her education and training in England. She has pursued several courses with the British Association of Art Therapists, Inner Sound Therapy, Naked Voice, British School of Anger Management, and Somatic Healing & Life. Participants in visual art therapy explore a range of art materials including paint, charcoal and collage, consider relevant art work and reflect on how art can benefit themselves. “Visual art therapy in itself may not cure anything but it does give us important insights into ourselves and provides a bridge for communicating things that are very difficult to put into words. Visual art therapy can be a very valuable communication tool for the elderly, and those with mental or physical health challenges. It’s for anyone who feels isolated and misunderstood. Art therapy is always non judgmental,” she says.
She undertakes sessions on themes such as anger, self, grief, health and powerlessness, always focusing on process not product. Images are not only means of communication for those with limited, or impaired verbal skills, but they are also vital for those whose words can distract, defend and deceive. “Working through art therapy with emotions connected to grief can be valuable. Relationship break-ups and heartbreak can be expressed through art therapy too. Sexual orientation and related issues can often be more easily shared through art than talking. Art therapy can support many forms of healing,” she adds.
Everyone has the potential to be creative, but art therapy is unconcerned with the product; be it painting, drawing, or collage. “It’s what we feel and learn during the therapy. We don’t need to wait till we are depressed or sick; art therapy can help anyone anytime,” she adds.
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Originally published on The Golden Sparrow