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Activity 1: all tied up with worry

1. You can find faces of varying shapes from a craft store. Each client can choose a face that represents them. Clients could draw their own outline on cardboard and cut out.


2. Use yarn/wool and sticky address labels for writing.


3. Holes could be puctured through card and wool knotted at the back or you could use sticky tape to stick wool on the forehead area of your face.


4. This could lead on to a group discussion about the worries and how to deal with them.

Idea from Kim Peterson.

Activity 11: write a poem

This idea is a simple as writing a poem, cutting it into strips and making it into a ball, as shown below.


Once the strips are in order, stack them up, puncture a hole in each end and insert brads.

Each strip could be painted on before adding your poem in the form of hand written letters.


This could form part of a group project for a Christmas tree in a public place.


Idea from Kristin (

Activity 2: expressing trauma

1. Using a blank mask made of papier-mâché and plastic (above) create a face that reflects how you really feel inside. 


2. You could use strips/pieces of newspaper and wallpaper paste to build up a relief on the surface and acrylic paints for colour.


This kind of project has been used to treat soldiers with PTSD and TBI and could also be used as a means of self-expression for anyone who has experienced trauma.

Activity 4: ceramic face

You could also discuss Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' and the universality of mental pain and anguish.

Idea from Kim Peterson

Activity 12: give me a hand

I really like this idea - it came with the title 'what if your hand could tell stories?'

This might be an easier way for someone to describe a traumatic event using single words and/or short senetences.


Art by Keri Smith.

Activity 3: cardboard portrait

This activity could also be used cathartically to express a tragic or traumatic event.

Piece by Leonor Barbara.


Activity 1: Use some old photographs of yourself to help you remember a challenging period in your life. Express your feelings in the form of a self portrait with cardboard cutouts, as above. This could be further worked on by adding words cut out from a newspaper, papier mache (tissue paper) and paint for instance.


Activity 2: Instead of a self-portrait make a representation of your family, their personalities and the feelings you associate with them.

Activity 13: collage face

I like this very much as a simple collage. It could be combined with words cut out from a newspaper page. It could also be linked with Cubism and the different, perhaps warring selves that make us up.

Activity 14: ball of grief

I like this becuase it is very visual and can help make sense of the range of emotions that grief provokes.

Illustration by

Activity 5: 'I came to the realisation...'

An activity that can provoke reflection, understanding and recognition of progress or unfolding in the recovery journey. Good for jounaling.

Idea and drawing by Katarina Thorsen.

Activity 15: representing your fear

Turn your fears into an actual drawing of a monster.

Idea from 

Sometimes the only way to lessen your fears is to face them head on. Think about something that frightens you, whether it's "spiders," "being a bad artist," "going broke" or "losing my way."


Give this fear a shape, a colour and a texture; it can be as abstract or symbolic as you wish. Creating the beast outside of you will strip your fear of some of its power, especially when comparing it to the (now often silly) fears we all had as a child.

Activity 6: watercolour your bodily state

Lie down and close your eyes. Visualize your body as you breathe in and out. Try to imagine your breath as a particular colour as it enters your body, another colour as it exits. What do you see?


Draw an outline of a body on a large sheet of paper, and inside, create a watercolor based on your bodily state. Think about what these colors mean to you, where they are densest, where they are most opaque. Think of this as the most relaxing self-portrait you'll ever create.


*Can link with Mindfulness.

Activity 16: personifying death

1. Using play dough or DAS air-hardened clay create a representation or sculpture that addresses the question: "if death was a person or animal what would it look like?"


2. Air-hardened clay can then be painted for effect.


Activity 10: do a doodle a day!

This can be alot of fun! If you keep a sketch book of them it can be pleasing when you look back through later on. Alternatively you could do your doodles in your journal every day....



Activity 7: draw my dreams

Is there a dream that keeps repeating itself over time? Perhaps there is one in particular that affected you? 


1. Make a drawing or painting of it (it doesn't have to be a good one) and add words or sentences in and/or around it if it helps to explain your dream more fully.


2. Make a habit of recording your dreams in your visual journal. 


You may want to look into 'free association' and metaphors in relation to this activity as well as the work of artists like Dali and Magritte.




Activity 8: making ink blot art

Using paper, ink and water, it's as simple as:


1. Fold a piece of paper in half. Apply a dot or two of water, and a dot or two of ink.

2. Fold the paper, and apply pressure with the palm of your hand. Unfold.

3. Draw into one of your inkblots to emphasise something you see in it. If you see a crab for instance, make it more crab like. What does the image mean to you?


Ideas by Margaret Peot.


Activity 17: expressive watercolour

I really enjoyed doing these - hence the page backgrounds! I cleared my mind and let the brush and colours do the work.


I masked off the watercolour paper first and then wet it before adding the colours. I added more colour bit by bit to build up colour with more depth.


Watercolours by Richard K Potter.


Activity 18: intuitive watercolour

Intuitive watercolour by Shelley Klammer.


Expressive watercolor techniques like pouring, dripping, drizzling, etc also allows your art to create itself!

Do a spontaneous, intuitive watercolour painting every day for a month. Empty your mind of thoughts about 'what' you might paint. Allow the brush to follow your feelings.


Activity 9: healing grief

1. Create a list of emotions you are feeling.


2. Assign a colour of tissue paper to each emotion on your list.


3. Create a “key” page in your art journal showing each emotion and the colour you have assigned.  Keep a second page, or the back of the page, where you can add new emotions that come up in the future.


4. Pick the emotions you are feeling on that particular day and find the related color.

Tear up pieces of tissue paper associate with that emotion.  If you are feeling more of one emotions, tear up more pieces of that color tissue.


5. Place and then paste the different colored tissue on the page, in differing amounts to represent how much of a certain emotion you are feeling that day.  Paint more decoupage on top of the tissue paper once it has been placed.


6. complete the entire page to represent the current combinations of emotions you are experiencing. 

Idea from Litsa

Activity 19: collage head

Use Magazine cut-outs for this text and image activity. The head seems to made from polystyrene.


*Good for exploring thoughts (including intrusive, distorted and automatic thoughts). Could link with Mindfulness.

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