The following expressive arts therapy directive is called Grown-up Transitional Object and is by contributing guest author Dr. Deah Schwartz. Once a month, Dr. Schwartz shares an art therapy idea or activity to facilitate exploration, increased awareness and healing in the areas of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating. Some of these activities 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.
Title: Grown-up Transitional Object
Why This Activity?
This is a specific application for a classic crafts activity, decoupage, or a do it yourself version of the recent popular inspirational or motivational stones. We tend to lose our center or our “home” when we are facing a life change, or transition. Turtles and snails are two creatures that carry their homes with them where ever they go. They don’t change who they are based on where they are or what others expect of them. They are symbols of moving slowly and methodically. This activity helps the participants to explore and identify safe, constant, and positive aspects of themselves and create a concrete reminder they can carry with them.
Drawing paper, magazines, markers, paint and brushes (optional), computer and printer (optional), scissors, decoupage glue, varnish (optional), smooth stones or clear glass flat bottomed marbles or Fimo™-type clay.
1. Explain the metaphor of turtles and snails. These are two of many creatures that carry their homes with them where ever they go and don’t lose “themselves” because they are in a new place or facing a transition.
2. Using either discussion or a free write, have clients identify at least one positive, constant, reliable, quality about themselves. If it is impossible to identify one, choose one word or one phrase that is calming or inspirational.
3. If possible, have the client collect smooth stones from the beach, garden, or park. This adds a physical element to the activity and an opportunity to introduce the client to a new leisure location. If working inpatient, or if incorporating an outing is not an option, provide the stones or clear glass flat bottom marbles as part of the materials to the participants. These can be purchased in garden stores or craft shops.
4. On a piece of paper, either hand-write in marker, print out from a computer, or cut out from a magazine a word, phrase, or picture that was identified in step 2 and apply to the stone or marble with decoupage glue. Allow to dry and apply several more coats for extra protection.
5. Optional: Some people prefer to add a coat of varnish on the finished product for a glossier finish, or paint the word, phrase, or image on the rock directly. You can also use Fimo™ or other clay to craft the stones.