During my Substance Abuse class we were asked to use motivational interviewing techniques through an art therapy practice. we were going to make art around for subjects around a change. What is the benefit of change, what is the cost of change, what is the benefit of not changing, what is the cost of not changing. While this exercise could be done verbally, art therapy uses art as a language to communicate just as clearly as verbal language. As a 3D artist I made four separate pieces. Two question marks, a red ball of twine, a red cord and a blue cord. If I were to make the choice I would have the blue cord, a calmer line no longer the roller coaster of hot/cold. The cost was a pair of question marks, as I wasn’t sure what the consequences on my relationships would be based on this change. The red cord was the cost of not changing, a rapid heartbeat line. The benefit of not changing was a tight ball in which multiple lines were drawn and knotted together closely.

Through the peer counseling session that followed, in which I discussed my potential change with my fellow art therapist and counselor. I was able to verbalize portions of my thought process, and my peer-therapist was able to use OARS (open ended questions, affirmations, reflections, and summary to divulge portions of the decision, and consequences I hadn’t been able to consider. Through the process it was determined that by not consulting with the other people who were impacted and involved in the decision, I was making choices based on ideas of what might happen out of fear of the consequences of even asking. I then made art about this process.
I turned the question marks toward each other, touching questions to questions. To ask questions about how things would change I would need to answer questions about why I wanted change. I took the pulse lines and draped them over these questions acknowledging that there would be both loss and gain on both sides of these conversations of questions and consequences. I took the small ball of knots and placed it atop the head of the blue swan, almost a bow on it’s head, a sign that only through conversation could one side of the conversation begin to understand the other. Through a sharing of information and of decision a seed of other would be born in each of us, a new understanding.

I use some motivational interviewing techniques in my work, in that I find the techniques of motivational interviewing in relationship to stages of change to be very useful; all participants I work with occupy various stages of changes they are making or attempting to make. When things are not enjoyable, people attempt to change things, often in the same way but in an escalating fashion to receive an escalated effect. I take a harm reduction approach, in that I do not believe in taking anything away from someone-including indecision- if I can’t offer something better; a small step is better than no step. Indecision is often a sign of capacity overload, a trauma informed understanding that tolerance windows vary and are stalled out in during times of sensory overload.

Art Therapy techniques are often taught through a variety of vignettes and role-plays. I abhor stereotypical role-playing in which we are asked to pretend we are x, and then told that our experience of that moment is a true reflection of experience or an accurate experience of what it is to work with someone who lives with x. I appreciate the way that a variety of courses have broken the traditions of ‘role-play’ and instead asked students to learn with each other through peer counseling and through the material and experiences of our own lives. I appreciate the way in which techniques of response art can turn into answers made up of that same artwork. I appreciate to build an answer often means dissecting questions.

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