The following art therapy idea/activity is called Declaration of Independence and is by contributing guest author Dr. Deah Schwartz. Once a month, Dr. Schwartz shares an art therapy idea 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.
Title: Personal Declaration of Independence
A copy of the Declaration of Independence, parchment paper (or regular paper if parchment paper is not available), pen and ink, magazines, scissors and glue sticks.
- Have clients brainstorm on their associations with the words life, liberty, and happiness. In what ways are they feeling oppressed, held back, trapped, or unhappy? How many of those areas are associated with their weight or body type?
- Have clients choose at least one of the areas they identified in Step 1 and using either pen and paper or cutting out words/pictures from magazines, have them create their own Declaration of Independence.
- Have the group share their documents with each other and have a signing ceremony.
The pressure to conform to a specific body size is never so oppressive as it is during the summer months when we are supposed to bare all and not have any “flaws.” Frequently, when people hear the same messages over and over and over, they begin to believe that the message is their own belief and they stop questioning their own values. This Expressive Arts Therapy directive, provides an opportunity to identify personal values associated with life, liberty, and happiness. It is a reminder that everyone deserves those rights and they should not be intertwined with weight, body type, or beauty. It is a powerful step to declare ones independence from an oppressor even in a symbolic way such as this.