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Art Therapy for Those in Transition and Recovery

What you learn today, for no reason at all, will help you discover all the wonderful secrets of tomorrow.
– Norton Juster, author (1929-2021)

Those in the early stages of transition or recovery are often lost, struggling to sort out their emotions, and overwhelmed with all they have to unravel. Many of us have trauma in our lives that require healing. Divorce, grieving, loss of a loved one, large life changes, abuse or addiction recovery all require a large amount of healing. Art as therapy can help to identify the inner experience, emotional stress, and develop new constructive ways of dealing with it all. By exploring these emotions through art as therapy, each participant is able to reconcile their past experiences and process it with new perspective.

Art therapy is the creative break so many need, while re-learning a new way to live. Participants report feeling lighter, less anxious, less depressed, and less overwhelmed after just one session.

Art therapy engages the transformative process of becoming who we are: stronger, clear-minded, centered, and value-driven.

Art therapy has been shown to improve cognition, self-awareness, and self-esteem. It increases coping and social skills and promotes self-reflection and processing. It provides a way for participants to tap into their deepest emotions and perceptions.

My workshops are two hours in length and begin with a topic such as: Hope, Emotions, Self-Forgiveness, Self-Acceptance, Gratitude, Mindfulness, Letting Go, Challenges & Small Wins, Forgiveness of Others, Healing, Overcoming Fear, Visualization, Positive Mindset Outlook, and Healthy Self-Talk. After a brief discussion, participants will begin creating a project that supports the topic of the day. We finish by sharing our artwork (if desired) and having a wrap-up discussion of the project. This assists with working to get past feeling stuck and experience new growth, a more balanced mindset, and brings personal fulfillment – creating a path to improved self-worth.

Creating art allows individuals to recall and reframe past traumas and work through feelings of grief, loss and sometimes shame and regret. Completing a creation of art can bring feelings of accomplishment, empowerment, and satisfaction. Talking about one’s artwork allows for the processing of emotions felt along the way and thus increases self-awareness.

Workshops are led by me, Wendie Appel, a trained artist with a background in Psychology, Trauma Healing, and Addictive Behaviors and Treatment.

A sampling of the workshops offered

Painting our Emotions

This initial workshop gives participants a starting point to identify the range of emotions they may be feeling. As a group we list the many different emotions, discuss how some are related, and break down complex feelings to the root cause. We discuss why it is important to take the time to discern what you are feeling and how naming your emotion helps to be able to process it rationally. From there, participants take time to journal what they are currently feeling and briefly state why. They then paint their emotions, labeling the picture if desired. The results are revealing and allow the creator to see what they are feeling.

Pictures of creations from Painting our Emotions

Protection Shield

In this workshop, we begin by discussing old thought patterns vs. new thought patterns and how we feel in our new lives. We discuss triggers and how to protect ourselves from the barrage of outside negative influences: environmental circumstances, old habits, and thought patterns. Visualizations techniques are used, preserving what is useful from our past and keeping only what serves us today. Participants then create a Shield of Protection, with their own coat of arms, and label it with four of their inner strengths. The results are empowering, meaningful, satisfying, and build self-esteem.

Pictures of creations from the Protection Shield workshop

A Safe Place

This is an anxiety-reducing exercise. Creating a safe place can assist with reducing stress associated with triggers, anxiety, and relived trauma. A drawing can be used as a visual image to calm when the need arises. Creating a visual safe place allows one to relax and feel a sense of serenity. To begin we spend some time thinking of our ideal safe place. It could be the beach, a treehouse, inside the arms of a loved one, or even a fantasy realm. We discuss meditation, talking to a friend, writing in your journal, etc. as possible tools.

Pictures of creations from A Safe Place

Mandala Workshop

Mandala workshops are relaxing, fun, intuitive, and allow for a meditative quality of the mind and a calming effect on the body.

Participants are encouraged to let their thoughts float by like clouds and make no preconceptions of outcome, but to allow for the freedom to create whatever feels spontaneous while enjoying the rhythm and flow of the design. Mandala work promotes serenity and reflection while reducing stress and anxiety.

Mandalas are often helpful for those struggling with emotional or physical problems or a difficult personal situation. Mandala work is often associated with wholeness, growth, or the emergence of something new.

Pictures of creations from Mandala workshops

Neurographic art workshop

A calming and meditative exercise for those with anxiety and depression, grief and loss, or large life transitions.

In this workshop participants will focus on a particular problem that is causing upset. The results are stunning, always unique, and revealing, a reflection of your inner-self.

Select pictures of Neurographic art


An ongoing varied project in conjunction with workshops to capture growth and mindset changes.

Journaling includes a variety of themes using both the written word and art projects, and usually begins with a prompt from the day’s topic. The journals provide space for thoughts, emotions, and mindset. What is produced is a map of what one is experiencing, moving through, and leaving behind. Journal projects may incorporate mixed media, which allows for a variety of style, colors, and design elements. Creativity is encouraged!
We will utilize slow drawing techniques such as outlining the landscape of the paint (which represents inner landscape), stippling, and small sections of pattern work. These interruptions using slow drawing allow for time to thoughtfully process feelings from the day’s topic. Entries may incorporate, for example, a mantra, a list of strengths, a goal, or a letter to themselves about self-worth and acceptance. The journals also serve as a holder for the art from the day’s workshop. Participants experience growth, self-forgiveness, renewed hope, and an emergence of a new mindset.

Pictures of creations from the Journaling workshops

Interested? Reach out today