What’s My Line: Drawing and Art Activity to Help With Self Criticism and Judgement

The following group art and drawing activity is called What’s My Line? and is by contributing guest author . It’s a variation on an old children’s party game. Once a month, Dr. Schwartz shares an art activity to facilitate exploration, increased awareness and healing in the areas of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating. Some of these directives may need to be facilitated over more than one session, or modified for different ability levels, size of group, budget and size of work space. Learn more about eating disorder therapy.

Materials:

  • Felt tipped markers (at least two different colors)
  • Drawing paper
  • One timer

How To Do This Group Art Activity

Divide the group into pairs and give each person in the pair a different color marker and a stack of drawing paper. (With obvious modifications, this can also be used for a 1:1 session).

Each participant takes their marker and draws five lines on a piece of paper. The lines should not be touching, other than that; they can be any size or shape. Each person repeats this on ten pieces of paper.
When everyone has finished drawing their five lines on ten pieces of paper they exchange their stack with the other person.

The group leader sets a timer for 10 minutes and cues everyone to start drawing on the first piece of paper at the same time. The directive is to use all five lines in the drawing to create a picture. The only rule is that the original five lines need to still remain visible in their original color when the drawing is completed and all five lines must be incorporated in the drawing no matter how silly the drawing may turn out to be.

When the ten minutes are up have each person give the stack of now completed drawings back to their partner and then look at the drawings together. What do they notice about the collection? Are there similar themes, similar objects? Avoid using any adjectives like good, bad, as it relates to the drawings themselves. Was it fun, was it boring, did it feel silly; did it get harder or easier as the drawings went on, more intricate or less? Were you judging the pictures while you were drawing them or when they were finished?

Come back together as a group and share thoughts, feelings and observations.

Why Do This Drawing Activity?

People with eating disorders and negative body image are frequently extremely judgmental about themselves and not just as it relates to their body. Breaking deeply ingrained habits of self criticism and judgment can be difficult. Because many people are told from a young age that they can’t draw or they are not a “good artist” this art activity is a great way to practice non judgment in a playful way. The focus is taken off of the perfection of the art piece and placed on whether or not the lines get used. There is no right or wrong to this activity, it is completely success orientated.

Once a person begins to build up a repertoire of how it feels to embark on an activity or set foot in a situation that is non-judgmental they may be able to imagine other scenarios where they can do that as well. Ultimately the goal is to generalize the less critical/judgmental behavior and positive feelings associated with the experience into other arenas.

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