T. is a little girl age 7 who lives with almost daily pain and discomfort from longstanding, severe allergies. Food allergies, environmental allergies, rashes and real, cramping stomach pain. For several years now she has been using art therapy skills to help her with both the physical pain and the emotional distress. This drawing was done in the patient treatment room with her doctor while she waited on whether or not she was to have very invasive test. Both her parents were also present. She knew she had to contain her emotions at least with the doctor present. Her drawing is a great example of containment and perseveration. Perseveration is the working and reworking and rereworking, filling the page. You can see the investment in time and graphite. Perseveration is a graphic indicator for anxiety and for anxiety to the point of OCD. You bet she was anxious! The perseveration makes perfect sense. I am struck by her subject matter. She is drawing her version of “Nature” moving and flying and running and chasing and catching and so on. It reminds me of the food chain from biology class or the Circle of Life from Elton John. The drawing has intentional movement through arrows and brackets and waves. Here is the containment piece. This is art therapy at work – helping T. to contain her pain and her worries and her questions and stay in the moment. It’s like a little world that she has “control” over and where she feels empowered. She has learned to soothe herself with drawing and reports that she feels better when she works it all out on paper.
I plan to introduce spirituality to T. with a mother/daughter session journeying for Totem animals. Apparently she already understands Nature as Spirit. I am looking forward to it.
Jas Milam copyright 2012