Primal Therapy & Art
Expression/communication through art/drawing is seen by Primal Therapy Australia as a valuable therapeutic tool because often clients are able to express through drawing feelings that they are yet to fully feel and/or cannot put into words. Drawing and painting allows us to gain a deeper understanding of traumatic experience through the eyes of the individual as images often imprint more vividly into consciousness than words.
Art is not used as a substitute for the feeling process but rather it is used in conjunction with the feeling work as it provides a non-verbal medium to convey the profound impact of overwhelming trauma on adults and children. Many people find that using art (their creativity) helps them to integrate dissociated and painful material and assists in their healing.
Art in therapy can be used in different ways:
- For different diagnosis and monitoring response to treatment.
- For processing traumatic memories in an observer mode so that they are not relived until the client is ready to experience the feeling part of the memory.
- For teaching clients self-soothing and techniques to help them cope with flashbacks.
- For educating clients and helping them understand the dissociative dynamic and stay grounded instead of dissociating.
At Primal Therapy Australia drawing and art has been and is invaluable in education and healing. It has played a powerful role in the integration and understanding of many clients.
Following are images kindly donated by clients of Primal Therapy Australia.
This picture was made early in the therapy, while I was unable to identify any feelings or name them. So my therapist asked me to bring in paper and pencils, and asked me to draw anger. This is what I drew. It meant nothing to me at all, although I could see intellectually that it represented the build up of feeling before the outward explosion.
Everyone who knew me used to say: it’s strange, you never get angry. I did a very healing therapy with a traditional psychotherapist, but never could express any anger there, as it just wasn’t safe. Only when I started at Primal Therapy Australia did I begin to let it out, because my anger was welcomed there, it was really welcomed.
Oh, the feeling of relief when I could welcome anger from inside my body to the outside.
Although I did many drawings of the feeling of anger, drawing it never ever satisfied the urge. It had to be expressed with body, voice and movement.
The visualised expression of my bodily experience and inner feelings.
An example of overwhelming dirt taking over one’s (my) good.
Within the centre the dirt spreads like veins through the (my) entire body. Yellow bolts representing the shock once realized that I am the only one to blame and the teardrop representing the graduating sadness followed with hurt.
(17 years old client)
This is the child in my adult body, feeling, remembering, being in such pain and grief, and behind is the loving presence that companioned me through the therapy, never abusing me, never deserting me, and never lying to me.
I had a dream that I was surrounded by people
I didn’t feel scared, I felt safe with them
They were making me do things that I didn’t want to do
I didn’t like it.
Ballad of a Loving Axe-Murderer 24-29/8/93
Oh, Lily-head my Daddy is,
all cleaved apart
What fiendish monkey took my heart
to plot such deed,
His reddened lips purse rosy-bloom,
all quivering soft,
And hooded eyes a mask of love
glow gently green,
When waking with his head in two
sent weakly bleats
My daughter why are you so cruel
to one so near,
So Daddy darling with silk thread
I sewed you up,
though you were slimy greenly dead,
this gift of life
Forgive me dear, my Daddy Love,
my reddened hair down shoulders bare,
my reddened eyes
What should I feel, where lies my heart
if ‘love’, this word,
A dreadful pit were in me then,
where venom seeps,
I’ll bring my song to ending now,
my heart is dead,
I lay the lily on his breast,
and turn to live,
Out of the darkness of Hell
there is an explosion of light,
the light of resurrection,
the new birth of me.
Me come forth
Orgasm as a child is felt as being totally controlled, having no power of Self – so it is like torture rather than pleasure.
This picture shows how orgasm feels to the child.
Turned into fits, convulsions.
The body needs release
To tell its story of
abuse, torture and agonies,
Pure undiluted terror
Fill my bones
Increase my pain
Let it go
Come on dear
I am here
Freedom is near
Des Demona Passion
A representation of the agonizing feelings that come with traumatic remembering.
Remembering being made to have sex with my father.
I am quite united