The End of 2020 – An Opportunity for Reflection

Written by Samantha Davis

For many people, endings can bring up a combination of feelings, associations and expectations regarding the festive season. There may be apprehension or excitement, relief or overwhelm or even dread around end-of-year arrangements and relationships with family and friends, or perhaps being alone at this time.

There are often conflicting emotions around endings. Endings usually involve a degree of change. Change often brings along its companion, anxiety. Hence endings, change and anxiety may confront us with an experience of loss…

This year especially has been a year of much anxiety, change and loss with Covid-19. There were many premature and sudden endings with lockdown. There was a loss of family and friends, loss of routine, structure and mobility. A loss of human touch. A loss of work, money, mental health and stability. A loss of experience. On a personal note, my daughter is in matric this year and is currently writing finals - these teens have lost many a rite of passage in their final milestone year.

When schools and work places resumed in person, there was too a loss of how things were. There were more physical rules. Overall, 2020 has been a progressive process of transition that has kept unfolding, a continual process of change, loss and adaptation.

What is a Conscious Ending and how does it present itself in Art Therapy?

As the year draws to a close, there are endings for Art Therapy groups as well as individual clients. In Art Therapy, we aim to work as much as possible with a ‘conscious’ ending. What I mean by this, is having the ‘awareness’ of an ending and this is addressed both on a practical and emotional level.

On a practical level, firstly knowing when the Art Therapy sessions or groups will terminate so that the therapist and client are able to count down the sessions together, to be prepared in terms of timing.

On more of an emotional or deeper level, to be able to explore what endings mean for each different client and/or group on their particular journey. This allows the client to pace themselves toward the ending through reflection of previous sessions and experiences so that there is opportunity for integration of the work already done. In addition, an awareness of current feelings regarding whatever feelings may arise for the client in the last couple of sessions around an ending.

The OPPOSITE of a conscious ending would be not knowing that there is an ending - i.e. a sudden ending and hence not being able to say goodbye. Endings that are avoided, not thought about, discussed or explored and where feelings about the ending are denied or repressed are not conscious endings. For most, Covid presented with a sudden lockdown which prevented endings on a conscious level.  For some the work moved online, for others this was not possible or available.

In a client’s previous experiences there may NOT have been an opportunity to say goodbye to relationships through circumstances (often beyond one’s control) such as loss, abandonment, premature endings or even death. Hence, addressing endings is often an uncomfortable process in that it can bring back painful, difficult or unresolved memories of previous 'endings' in one’s life.

The therapeutic experience needs to be a reparative experience that is different to the past, whereby termination is a ‘conscious’ process where the ending is acknowledged and discussed in the weeks leading up to the ending.

The Art Therapist needs to be aware of possible changes in behaviour with their clients; for example, sudden acting out or lateness, as this may be the client’s form of expressing a difficulty unconsciously, with endings. In the last session with a boy child last week, he chose to play a factual game of knowledge with me, one that he plays with his friends. Something ‘familiar’ was needed by this child in order to support his saying goodbye, which included turning away from the creativity and playfulness (a right brain activity) and a return to the known and the structure (cognitive left brain activity) which felt safer for him in his ending.

Raymond Lindquist says that "Courage is the power to let go of the familiar". In Art Therapy sessions or group work, children may often turn away from using art materials and rather play with toys or objects in the therapy room as a means of re-establishing their defences and preparing themselves for ending therapy and the relationship with the therapist. Artwork often changes during endings in that children may doodle, create cartoons, or try to play games such as ‘naughts and crosses’ or ‘hangman’ as a form of distancing or separating from the therapist or therapeutic process. This moving away from spontaneous play and more into structured play is not a bad thing as it is a means of re-establishing one’s defences and preparing oneself for the ending and allows for individuation back into the 'real world'. Sometimes clients including adults may become frantic wanting to complete images in time, erupt in unexpected laughter or tears, or perhaps just want to talk and not use art toward the ending.

The aim of a conscious ending is that of having a shared experience with the therapist and then being able to integrate the good and the challenges along the journey in a more manageable and digestible manner. Often clients or groups may wish to end with an exploration of all their art work created over the course of their Art Therapy process and reflect through the imagery on their journey as a means of closure.

Although endings can feel scary and uncertain, they can also be wonderful opportunities of transitions to the hope and potential of what lies ahead before a new beginning.

Let’s return to the ending of 2020 and closure of a year, but not the end of the world-wide pandemic.

Ending of year 2020

This year has clearly been one of a kind. A first for all. A pandemic, the unknown, the changes, more changes, losses and now the ending of the year. Many people are struggling with Covid Exhaustion. It feels paramount to have some sort of reflection and thoughtfulness around the ending of 2020 especially and all it has impacted in order to make way for some lightness, clarity and new beginnings.

What can be really meaningful is to also bring about some ‘consciousness’ or awareness around the ending of the year through mindful reflection. What does the approaching end of 2020 mean for you?

Looking back over the past year and write down or acknowledge how much change and how many challenges you have overcome.

Ask yourself some further exploratory questions such as:

  • What resources have you discovered?
  • What have you gained?
  • Where can you embrace life more?
  • Where can you be more functional in terms of relationships, skills, self-care?
  • How can you be gentler and kinder to yourself and others?

Wishing you all a conscious ending of 2020. Acknowledge the challenges. Take an inventory of what you can be grateful for in your life. May you take time to relax, unwind, find joy, meaning and rejuvenate this holiday season.

Thank you all for your loyal support, feedback and interest as we have also faced the change of moving from in person groups to Online Art Therapy groups during Covid-19.

Curious about Art Therapy?

Please note that one can only legitimately use ‘Art Therapy’ with clients once you have undergone a registered Art Therapy training (which is only available internationally) and are then registered with the HPCSA. For more info on an international Masters in Art Therapy, go here.

Art Therapy Courses / Workshops in South Africa

Art Therapy Taster Workshop

Thurs 7 Oct 2021

Short 2.5 hour online taster session where you can find out about Art Therapy in South Africa as well as have a short hands-on experience of both exploring Art Therapy and gaining awareness of the theories that underlie the practice.

Full Fee: R450

Learn More

Create - Connect - Reflect Workshop (via Zoom)

Mon 11 Oct 2021  |  2 SPACES LEFT!

We are all fighting two invisible enemies – Covid-19 and mental health challenges. Each one of us has experienced significant life changes and loss – whether it is of a physical, emotional, financial or social nature. We have all been affected. Many of us are in a state of stuckness, confusion or in limbo. Uncertainty, […]

Full Fee: R580

Learn More

Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar: Part 1 (via Zoom)

27-29 Sept 2021 (ONE space left) or 8-10 Nov or 15-17 Nov 2021  |  5 SPACES LEFT!

CPD points for HPCSA registered professionals.

An ONLINE introduction to the process of Art Therapy including theory, case studies, experiential art making, exploration, sharing daily plus journaling. Less intense, lighter, shorter and cheaper than the 5-Day Intensive Course.

Full Fee: R5250 R4950 (Early Bird ends 30 Sep 2021)

Learn More

Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar: Part 2 (via Zoom)

25-27 Oct 2021  |  6 SPACES LEFT!

*NEW* Advanced Online Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar – after completion of the Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar or the Art Therapy 5-Day Intensive course – this ADVANCED or TOP-UP Seminar is built on previously explored concepts and group experiences.

Full Fee: R4950

Learn More

Mandala Workshop (via Zoom)

Mon 9 Aug 2021 (National Women's Day)

A Mandala is a Sanskrit word for a ‘sacred’ or ‘magic circle’. Mandalas have been used for centuries in meditative and creative practices. This half day workshop is designed to help you relax and unwind and get into a space of being in the present moment through art, visualization, letting go in order to access a spontaneous, innate creative place within yourself. A real treat!

Full Fee: R680

Learn More

Art Therapy 1-Day Intro Course (via Zoom)

Run for existing groups upon request  |  7 SPACES LEFT!

This one-day course is aimed at introducing you to the dynamic and exciting process of Art Therapy and how it can be applied to adults and children of all ages. An exciting combination of learning, experiential art-making and questions and answers in a group environment. No art experience required!

Full Fee: R1350 R1250

Learn More

Art Therapy Vision Board Workshop (via Zoom)

Thurs 14 Oct or Mon 18 Oct 2021  |  8 SPACES LEFT!

A combination of colour, pictures, words and Art Therapy techniques to identify, explore and creatively set goals for 2021. Lay the foundations for the New Year! No art experience required.

Full Fee: R750

Learn More

Art as Communication (via Zoom)

2021/2022

(This course runs online for 8 consecutive weeks)

An online experiential art making workshop and exploring of images within a group format, whilst introducing basic Art Therapy theoretical ''concepts''. Various art materials are used as a means of self-expression and communication.

Full Fee: R4950 R4650

Learn More
Art Therapy for Corporates

Creative Workshops for Corporates

Run on request for existing groups

Tailor-made for organisations and corporate settings! Various creative interventions available, which encompass a uniquely developed and researched methodology utilizing practical, creative and experiential learning rather than the traditional 'learning from lecture and notes' approach.

Learn More
Art Therapy in Education

Art Therapy Workshops for Educators

Run on request for existing groups

Tailor-made Art Therapy workshops for groups of educators, art teachers and councillors working in school settings. Choose from a 2 hour mini-workshop or a 1-Day Art Therapy workshop...

Learn More

Art Therapy Courses / Workshops in South Africa

Art Therapy Taster Workshop

Thurs 7 Oct 2021

Short 2.5 hour online taster session where you can find out about Art Therapy in South Africa as well as have a short hands-on experience of both exploring Art Therapy and gaining awareness of the theories that underlie the practice.

Full Fee: R450

Learn More

Create - Connect - Reflect Workshop (via Zoom)

Mon 11 Oct 2021  |  2 SPACES LEFT!

We are all fighting two invisible enemies – Covid-19 and mental health challenges. Each one of us has experienced significant life changes and loss – whether it is of a physical, emotional, financial or social nature. We have all been affected. Many of us are in a state of stuckness, confusion or in limbo. Uncertainty, […]

Full Fee: R580

Learn More

Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar: Part 1 (via Zoom)

27-29 Sept 2021 (ONE space left) or 8-10 Nov or 15-17 Nov 2021  |  5 SPACES LEFT!

CPD points for HPCSA registered professionals.

An ONLINE introduction to the process of Art Therapy including theory, case studies, experiential art making, exploration, sharing daily plus journaling. Less intense, lighter, shorter and cheaper than the 5-Day Intensive Course.

Full Fee: R5250 R4950 (Early Bird ends 30 Sep 2021)

Learn More

Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar: Part 2 (via Zoom)

25-27 Oct 2021  |  6 SPACES LEFT!

*NEW* Advanced Online Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar – after completion of the Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar or the Art Therapy 5-Day Intensive course – this ADVANCED or TOP-UP Seminar is built on previously explored concepts and group experiences.

Full Fee: R4950

Learn More

Mandala Workshop (via Zoom)

Mon 9 Aug 2021 (National Women's Day)

A Mandala is a Sanskrit word for a ‘sacred’ or ‘magic circle’. Mandalas have been used for centuries in meditative and creative practices. This half day workshop is designed to help you relax and unwind and get into a space of being in the present moment through art, visualization, letting go in order to access a spontaneous, innate creative place within yourself. A real treat!

Full Fee: R680

Learn More

Art Therapy 1-Day Intro Course (via Zoom)

Run for existing groups upon request  |  7 SPACES LEFT!

This one-day course is aimed at introducing you to the dynamic and exciting process of Art Therapy and how it can be applied to adults and children of all ages. An exciting combination of learning, experiential art-making and questions and answers in a group environment. No art experience required!

Full Fee: R1350 R1250

Learn More

Art Therapy Vision Board Workshop (via Zoom)

Thurs 14 Oct or Mon 18 Oct 2021  |  8 SPACES LEFT!

A combination of colour, pictures, words and Art Therapy techniques to identify, explore and creatively set goals for 2021. Lay the foundations for the New Year! No art experience required.

Full Fee: R750

Learn More

Art as Communication (via Zoom)

2021/2022

(This course runs online for 8 consecutive weeks)

An online experiential art making workshop and exploring of images within a group format, whilst introducing basic Art Therapy theoretical ''concepts''. Various art materials are used as a means of self-expression and communication.

Full Fee: R4950 R4650

Learn More
Art Therapy for Corporates

Creative Workshops for Corporates

Run on request for existing groups

Tailor-made for organisations and corporate settings! Various creative interventions available, which encompass a uniquely developed and researched methodology utilizing practical, creative and experiential learning rather than the traditional 'learning from lecture and notes' approach.

Learn More
Art Therapy in Education

Art Therapy Workshops for Educators

Run on request for existing groups

Tailor-made Art Therapy workshops for groups of educators, art teachers and councillors working in school settings. Choose from a 2 hour mini-workshop or a 1-Day Art Therapy workshop...

Learn More