Expressive Arts Workshop Materials (Expanded Version)

Jennifer Freeman




Guided relaxation. Be centered. Contact your inner-guide, your wisdom or sense of resourcefulness. Find a still/empty space. Allow an externalized problem to present itself. At any point in the process, you can return to a meditative place and ask for your inner wisdom to give you guidance.


  • Respond to some or all of these questions:
  • How does this problem oppress and limit your experience: of yourself; relationships; actions and choices?
  • How and when did the problem, like a weed, take root in your life?
  • What is the soil it grew in? (e. g. relationships, family, and social /cultural training).
  • What sort of social ideas /ideologies and practices supported it (gender, class, race, socio-economic).
  • If you were to separate yourself from the problem, where would you stand in relation to these?
  • How would you rather be in charge of the problem than have it in charge of you?


The influence of the problem on your life: what effects does the problem have on your life? Consider the background of social influences or messages.

Choose an expressive style. Some options could be:

  • A drawing in symbolic terms.
  • A map of the problem’s influence.
  • A cartoon series showing different areas of effect.
  • An intuitive drawing using your non-dominant hand and showing the influence of the problem in shapes and colors
  • Your own inspiration.


If the problem were to write a description of you from its negative or dominating point of view, what would it say about you, how would it tell your story? e. g.: This is the way I see this person–this is what I want her to be and do–this is what I keep her from doing. This is what I need from him/her to keep me going–My main supports are: (other habits, problems or ways of thinking (e.g.. perfectionism as supported by insecurity ). Also, let me explain when I (the problem) am a friend and when I am a foe to this person.

Optional drawing

What would it look like if the problem were to remain unchanged and in charge, in five or ten years time?


Warm up. Walk around in neutral. Allow the problem to influence you, start to embody the problem. What happens to your posture and breathing? Now develop a movement with the problem in charge. How would you move under its influence? Explore this for a while. Exaggerate it. What sounds would you make?

Allow this movement to develop into a transitional movement that would start to loosen the grip of the problem. Explore the pathways to free yourself of its oppressive influence, and into a more preferred state. What posture, movement and breathing make a transition? Expand into a movement of liberation, a preferred state of being. What movement helps you find the relationship you would prefer with the problem? What sounds come with this? Develop this movement/gesture of right relationship. How would it be to practice this posture and movement?

Draw or sculpt this movement solution

Find a way to respond to it using other senses. Find some words that go with this experience.


How did the problem convince/trick you into following its ways rather than your own preferred ways? What are you in touch with now (about yourself) that will encourage you to follow your own ways? What side benefits (if any) of the problem would you have to give up by changing? What possibilities would open up for you?

Draw a unique outcome

What does the movement remind you of? Think of a time when you were able to have a different relationship with the problem, when you were free of it, or in harmony with it. If you can’t think of a time, make one up (a desired outcome?).


What relationship do you prefer to have with the problem. i. e. the “right relationship”? (e. g., free of it, vanquish it etc.) What do you know about yourself that suits and can strengthen this relationship? What else will support or encourage it? What threads do you see in your life that may have been ignored before speak to this preferred relationship? What other question would you like to be asked (answer it)?

Sculpt or draw

Sculpt or draw his relationship, or your preferred/liberated balance in relation to problem. May expand on previous work or start a new one.


Write a description/tell a story about yourself from the “alternative knowledge” point of view (rather than the problem’s point of view): one that takes into account these other threads of meaning about yourself. Can use words/and pictures. Try to incorporate past, present and future into your story.

Relax and close your eyes

Visualize how you project your life to be in a week, or five years or a time of your choice as you continue to embrace this direction. Ask for and receive a symbol for guidance and healing and thank your inner guidance.