Creative Counseling Interventions


In 2005, I created the Spin Art Grief Circle technique©. This process gives grieving families new visual and tactile stimuli to help accept and embrace the pain of loss. It is difficult to express deep grief and loss. Powerful sensations overwhelm us. We defensively retract inward. We struggle to regain feelings of safety and emotional balance.

When clients first come for counseling intake, we introduce them to a series of expressive art interventions they can use as mediums to understand and define their emotional pain. At the Clinic, we explore these deep emotions and seek to reorder lives in positive ways.

The Spin Art Grief Circle technique© is both simple and powerful. Through the process, the client objectifies their emotions, pours out pain as color, and creates a product each can hold in hand to visualize what is happening inside. The process helps clients embrace the beauty and pain of love as they begin the healing process.

Clients are asked to draw a large circle on a large piece of white paper, 36 inch by 36 inch. On top of the circle they are asked to write the word grief in pencil. For younger clients we spell this out. Clients then think of words to define their grief. They write the words within the circle. This establishes the range of individual perceptions and sensations that grief brings to mind, heart and body.

Clients are then asked to think of colors that relate to the feelings they have written down. Feelings and colors are then correlated. Clients then move to a spin art machine, a device that spins quickly and is used to pour the series of selected colors onto a sheet of paper within the machine. The client pours out painful feelings of loss into the protective container, the spin art machine. The colors spin onto the paper in vivid displays of emotional pain.

The individual tacitly measures the weight of their pain as they handle the paint containers, squeezing various amounts of color into the machine. They experience the turbulence of grief as the paint spins into a circular pattern. They manipulate the paints back and forth to adjust the process of releasing their pain through paint colors onto the paper. They watch this unfold in front of them as they externalize their emotions into products of beauty they can see and touch. They tactilely see and experience the release of emotions spinning out from their internal processes as the colors spin out from the machine. Clients add more feelings by introducing more colors until they accept what they see as an accurate reflection of their internal processes. We do not reject our pain, because it has been changed to something beautiful which we can see and accept.

Love becomes pain when someone dies. Grief is the most brutal form of love. Grief involves contradictory feelings. Grieving becomes the connection to the person who died. We try to express and explore these feelings however hard they are. Through the process, we learn to see our feelings in a new way. We mature into them. A bereaved person can reflect, embrace, and adjust to tremendous life altering experiences. One must not reject or minimize the emotions. Grief is the remnant of the love one harbored. Moving through grief too quickly often ends the relationship before the emotions are processed and we regain the necessary balance to heal. Healing is the ultimate goal of therapy.

Patricia L McNaught, LPC-S, RPT-S

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