The End of 2022: Reflection and Integration

Written by Samantha Davis

December already! The end of the year is once again fast approaching. This time of year is usually buzzing with an intensity of energy and emotions. We spend a lot of our year thinking, waiting or planning for the end of the year with an expectation of actually slowing down and optimistically having fun. We get caught up in the rush of completing projects, organizing, finalizing, planning…

The American Psychological Association says the holidays are one of the most stressful times of the year. The expectation of making it ‘special’, the unaddressed issues and pressure cooker of family, holiday, food, presents.

Before launching into festivities and holiday period, let’s take a moment to pause and look inwards to reflect on what you have experienced, learnt and gained over the past year.

Endings

For many people, endings can bring up a combination of feelings, associations and expectations. There may be apprehension or excitement, relief or overwhelm or even dread around end-of-year arrangements and relationships with family and friends, or being alone at this auspicious time of year. Endings often create anxiety as they encompass change.

December is a month of endings for all of us in both our personal and professional worlds. Be it the end of a year at work, children at school or university… the last of cultural or recreational groups etc. Because December coincides with the end of the calendar year, we often automatically pass through these endings without thought or reflection as beginnings and endings are just a part of the annual cycles in our lives. However, without pausing to take stock – what then is the difference between one year and the next? How can there be any learning, growth or improvements?

Endings in Art Therapy

In Art Therapy, we aim to work as much as possible with a ‘conscious’ ending. What I mean by this, is having the ‘awareness’ firstly knowing when the sessions/groups will terminate so that the therapist and client are able to count down the sessions together. This is especially helpful for a child who does not yet have a sense of time as adults do. Further, to be able to explore what endings mean for each different client/group on their particular journey. This allows the client to pace themselves toward the ending through reflection and hence integration of the work already done and to work with whatever comes up for the client in the last couple of sessions around the ending or endings in general.

The opposite of a conscious ending would be not knowing, not acknowledging and not working with an impending ending – or even a sudden ending where there is no opportunity to say goodbye or have any form of closure. Endings that are avoided, not thought about, discussed or explored, and where feelings about the ending are denied or repressed are not conscious endings and difficult to make sense of.

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

The therapeutic relationship needs to be a reparative experience that is different to past experiences, whereby termination is a ‘conscious’ process. Here the ending is firstly known, acknowledged, discussed and worked with in the weeks leading up to ending.

There are many ways to work with endings and this is depending on the client and their needs. Often clients or groups may wish to end Art Therapy 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. Sometimes a particular ritual is chosen by a client to aid their process of reflection and closure. This of course will be different for each person in terms of their age, length of time in Art Therapy as well as capacity for reflection and feelings and needs arising in their process of ending.

Changes in behaviour in Art Therapy

In Art Therapy client’s behaviour or artwork often changes when we are working with endings. Changes may include turning away from creativity to more structured art or play. Cancelling sessions, arriving late, avoiding creativity entirely, wanting to wash hands or clean up early are also examples. These are all ways of managing endings… unconsciously re-establishing one’s defences and preparing oneself for change. These changes are very useful clues for the Art Therapist to get a sense of what is happening in the client’s internal world. This then can be thought about and reflected on together in the session in order to both make sense of past experiences and equip clients with better coping mechanisms for change and future endings in relationships.

What are the benefits of a conscious ending?

Having a reparative opportunity of managing endings in a safe space with an Art Therapist enables the client and his/her feelings to be seen, shared, heard, acknowledged, held and contained. This helps clients to begin to manage and heal from painful experiences. Clients can then more easily deal with feelings and emotions and develop more effective coping mechanisms with renewed resilience. Conscious endings can also help model healthy boundaries and a natural and appropriate end to a relationship. This is all important for personal growth, development and transformation.

A fun exercise to try at home

How about exploring some ‘consciousness’ or awareness around the ending of your year?

Take out some paper and crayons/pencils/markers and try this…

  1. Draw a large outline of a shape to fill the page – any shape to represent your 2022. It can be a circle/square/star – anything… Don’t overthink this!
  2. Then write words, or draw pictures or symbols inside your shape using different colours to represent anything and everything that you associate with the past year.
  3. Once that is complete - take a new sheet of paper and draw a 2nd shape – to represent next year. Then add words and symbols to your 2nd shape– that you want to manifest and enjoy in 2023.

Reflecting on the past can help you to be more cognisant of what was and to see it from a distance. This helps to gain perspective and feel more in control. Thereafter reflecting on the future is an opportunity to bring intention to what you want going forward. Reflection allows us to pause, take stock and integrate all the bits and pieces of the past year. Mindful reflection also allows us to acknowledge the positive and to access gratitude. This is the practice toward growth and transformation! Making our experience of each year better than the next.

Finally…

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

Wishing you a conscious ending of 2022 - take time to slow down, to pause and enjoy the little things this holiday season. Thank you all for your loyal support, feedback and interest in Art Therapy.

I am looking forward to some down time this holiday spending time in nature, being with friends and family and of course my beloved animals, enjoying walks outdoors, cold water swims in in the sea, sun, healthy plant-based food and fun adventures.

With love,
Sam

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Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar (Cape Town)

Feb/March 2024  |  7 SPACES LEFT!

An 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: R5950 (Early Bird ends 31 Dec 2023)

Learn More

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August 2024  |  5 SPACES LEFT!

An introduction to the process of Art Therapy including theory, case studies, experiential art making, exploration, sharing daily plus journaling.

Full Fee: R6560 (Early Bird ends 30 Jun 2024)

Learn More

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6-8 May or 13-15 May 2024  |  7 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: R4950 (Early Bird ends 31 Dec 2023)

Learn More

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Feb/March 2024  |  8 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: R5950 (Early Bird ends 31 Dec 2023)

Learn More

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Feb/March 2024  |  8 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 (Early Bird ends 31 Dec 2023)

Learn More

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Wed 7 Feb 2024

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: R595

Learn More

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Wed 24 or 31 January 2024  |  7 SPACES LEFT!

A combination of colour, pictures, words and Art Therapy techniques to identify, explore and creatively set goals for 2023. Lay the foundations for the New Year! No art experience required.

Full Fee: R700

Learn More

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2023 TBC

Join the 1-Day Art Therapy & Mindfulness Workshop (via Zoom) to explore and experience the art of being present! Tap into your innate creativity, with a focus on being in the moment, accessing joy, insight, wellness, gratitude, playfulness and having fun through art. No art experience required.

Full Fee: R1695

Learn More

Mandala Workshop (Cape Town)

April 2024 TBC   |  8 SPACES LEFT!

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: R890

Learn More

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Run on request for existing groups  |  6 SPACES LEFT!

We are all trying to manage personal and professional challenges. Each one of us may have experienced significant life changes and or loss – whether it is of a physical, emotional, financial or social nature. We have all been affected by Covid -19 and struggling to get into balance and wellness again. Many of us […]

Full Fee: R580

Learn More

Art as Communication (via Zoom)

2022/2023

(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: R4650

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: R1250

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