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Examples of What the Art in Art Therapy Might Tell a Therapist

Examples of What the Art in Art Therapy Might Tell a Therapist

Art therapy may sound like it’s about the art itself. But it’s not about so much more than that. Art therapists undergo extensive clinical training to be able to read and understand a person’s artistic expression in ways that can say so much about what a person is feeling, what they’re struggling with, and so much more.

You’ve likely heard that art is a form of expression. One of the reasons it’s capable of doing that is because there are themes in what a person’s psychology says about them in their art. It’s why, while much art is open to interpretation, most of us can get similar feelings about a piece of art if we see it and recognize themes if we know where to look.

What are some examples?

We want to limit the number of examples we share because we do not want it to influence a person’s art. We want everything to flow from you genuinely. However, some examples might include:

  • If a person uses bright colors in certain types of paintings, it may mean that they’re showing signs of anxiety and agitation. However, in other settings, it may be a sign of contentment and excitement.
  • Recurring symbols may have meanings. For example, if a person consistently adds fences to a drawing, it may indicate that they’re feeling trapped or guarded.
  • Lines that are more unnecessarily jagged might indicate a person is feeling frustrated or angry, while lines that flow more might indicate that the person is thoughtful and calm.

Because we want the art to be genuine, we are careful to not direct you. While art therapy is guided AND we discuss the art together, it is meant to be your expression and come naturally, so we encourage anyone considering art therapy not to look up meanings too much before their sessions.

Nevertheless, it’s important to understand that this type of therapy and interpretation is extensively studied, and your art therapists deeply know how to assess and understand what you create. If you are struggling, and would like to explore an alternative approach to more widely known mental health options might benefit you, contact Flourish Psychology, today!

Should You Expect – Or Want – Unconditional Love From Your Partner?

Should You Expect – Or Want – Unconditional Love From Your Partner?

There is this believe about marriage and relationships that love is, or should be, unconditional. That when we have found our “True Love,” it means that we are with someone that should love us at all times. There is even a popular saying about it.

“If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best.”

We can have unconditional love for our children. But with our partner, not only is love typically not “unconditional,” but it also shouldn’t be. There are many valid, positive reasons for love not to be unconditional. We should always have expectations not only of our partner, but of ourselves.

Why Shouldn’t Love Be Unconditional?

Life is not a straight line, and two people are not always the same people with the same positive, honeymoon like dynamic. Throughout life as a couple, you and your partner are going to be experiencing constant ups and downs. You’re going to be faced with challenges and setbacks. You’ll also be changing often as people. Most people change considerably in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond.

In order to keep the love strong, a couple needs to also be motivated to change who they are and continually establish and re-establish their role in the relationship with their partner. Love has to be reciprocal and complementary in order to grow.

Unconditional love implies that, should someone make absolutely no effort, both partners should accept this openly and gleefully. It’s this assumption that your “worst” can be pretty much anything – crime, abuse, etc. – and you should put up with it, because you promised yourself and that person you would love them unconditionally.

Relationships that are unconditional provide no motivation for the other person to better themselves, and for both partners to put in effort in the relationship. Not only do truly unconditional romantic relationships rarely exist, the most successful couples are often the ones that feel a responsibility to keep the relationship going strong – the people that want to make sure they never lose it.

Couples Counseling and Growing as a Team

You can love your children unconditionally. But you and your partner benefit from feeling at least a little bit of pressure to evaluate your own behaviors and work on yourselves. The more you feel motivated to keep the relationship growing and thriving, the more you are putting yourself in a position to help it truly last.

Couples counseling is one way that both partners can learn to grow for themselves or each other. It provides an opportunity to help guide you as a couple into learning more about what your partner is thinking and what they need.

If you’re in need of couples counseling in Brooklyn, or anywhere in NYC, please contact Flourish Psychology today.

How We Are Reflected in Our Social Experiences

How We Are Reflected in Our Social Experiences

Human beings are, in many ways, meant to be social. Yes, many of us love our alone time. But we are a social species, and as such, our relationships often define for us who we are and where our life is. There is a reason that we, as a species, live longer and maintain our cognitive health when we have strong social connections.

But what if these social connections are not what we were seeking?

Sometimes, the social connections we create and develop are a reflection of how we feel internally and what we project onto the world. People that are drawn to us are sometimes drawn to us because of how we feel about ourselves, and people that we push away may be pushed away because our internal thoughts and emotions are telling them a story that they do not want to hear.

It’s Hard to Hide How We Feel

There are many situations where an emotion that we’re feeling or an issue we’re struggling with comes out, no matter how much we try to hide it. It doesn’t just come out in obvious ways, either. For example, if you find you’re struggling with anger, that doesn’t mean that your anger only comes out as shouting or yelling. In some ways, it can come out as a feeling people get when they’re around you, with subtle clues that they pick up on.

This can create situations where you’re pushing people away that may otherwise fill an important role in your life. For example, people that feel needy, or uncomfortable with others, or unhappy with themselves may present that to others in both apparent and subtle ways. They may be sharing that information with mannerisms or language choice or expressions that others pick up on and respond to accordingly.

If that happens:

  • The people that you desire a friendship with, and the ones that would be a good influence in your life, may find that they’re being unintentionally pushed away by these negative emotions and challenges. They may not feel like they can connect with you the way that you would normally be able to connect with them.
  • The people that you *do* attract may not be those that would be a good influence on your life. If you’re struggling with low self-esteem, for example, a person that you attract as a result may be someone that could take advantage of that – someone that finds low self-esteem to be an attractive personality trait.

You often hear friends and family recommend that you learn to love yourself before you focus on loving others. There may be some truth to that, as we want to make sure that the best possible emotions and personality traits are being reflected in the world.

This is not to say that you are only going to attract unwelcome people if you’re struggling, or that you are going to always push away those that may benefit your life simply because you have mental health challenges. But it is still likely to be beneficial to continue to work on your health, so that you can reflect the best possible version of yourself to others. If you would like help for your mental health, please contact Flourish Psychology, today.

The Lows of Achieving Work Success

The Lows of Achieving Work Success

Many of us have this desire to be professionally successful. We start businesses or work in industries where success is measurable and profitable, with goals that we make every effort to reach. For some of us, our lives are dedicated to reaching those goals, such as becoming CEO of a business or a lawyer getting your name on the wall.

Then what?

There is something incredible about finally achieving work success. But what we find as therapists that often work with successful professionals is that, once the success is achieved, there is a drop. There is a low feeling that can cause emotional and psychological challenges. What causes this drop, and what can be done to help fix it?

Why Do Some of Us Feel Down After Success?

Every individual has their own reasons for feeling low after achieving work success, but typically it is related to some, or all, of the following issues:

  • No Next Step – Change is difficult. Achieving immense success can mean that you now feel lost, without direction, unsure what to do next with your time and energy. That’s hard, and can be especially difficult if you saw this success as the ultimate goal.
  • Other Areas Missing – What did the journey to achieve that success require? Did you sacrifice relationships, for example, and have no one to share it with? Do you feel like you have the friendships you need to enjoy it? Some people find that they become suddenly aware of the things that are missing in their lives.
  • All That’s Left is the Work – Imagine your goal is CEO. You become CEO. You have hit the pinnacle of your hard work. Now, even though you have achieved that success, you still have to do a lot of work with no future goal planned. That is a lot of stress and it can feel like it’s for “less” since there is no where else to go.
  • Good Feeling Neurotransmitters – Achieving success fuels the release of chemicals in the brain that cause good feelings. Then, like any high, those chemicals go away. If you’ve been working for something your whole life, that high is going to be very powerful, and then the subsequent drop can cause you to feel emptier than you do on a typical day.
  • The Downside of Success – Some people, like CEOs, influencers, models, and actors, receive more public scrutiny with their successes. For example, the CEO of a Fortune 500 company has to watch stock prices and stock analysts discuss their company and determine their success based on fluctuations. Lawyers are frequently judged by whether they won cases, and actors receive reviews of their movies, acting ability, and looks.
  • Fear of Losing It – Some successes can also be taken away at any moment. Achieving the success means suddenly being faced with the pressure of maintaining that success, as the role or position may not be something that is solely yours at the pleasure of other people in charge.
  • The Pressures Were Always There – Sometimes, our lives already are very stressful, but we do not necessarily notice because we’re so caught up in our goals. Once the goal is reached, we may feel the stress more than was already a bit part of our lives.

Achieving success can also lead you to feel emotional, cause you to question yourself and your goals, and – of course – feel more stressed as you have to continue to work day to day.

Therapy for Work Success

There are many different ways that work success can have drawbacks. Achieving your goals is great, but it is equally important to work on our mental health as well. If you are someone that feels like your work success has left you feeling issues emotionally or psychologically, contact the therapists at Flourish Psychology, today.

How Can a Psychotherapist Help with Chronic Pain?

How Can a Psychotherapist Help with Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is a pervasive issue that affects millions, significantly impacting quality of life and overall well-being. While traditional medical treatments focus on the physical aspects of pain, it is often psychotherapists that can play a key, important role in the patient’s ability to manage pain.

A psychotherapist, through various therapeutic approaches, can offer substantial support in coping with the emotional and psychological dimensions of living with chronic pain.

The Link Between the Mind and Body

Chronic pain is not just a physical experience. It is an emotional and cognitive one as well. The mind-body connection plays a crucial role in how pain is perceived and managed. Different emotions can increase pain. Pain can also be exacerbated by thoughts and attention, and can be worse when a person has mental health struggles as well.

A psychotherapist can help unravel this complex interplay between the brain and body, providing insights into how psychological factors like stress, anxiety, and depression contribute to the amplification of pain sensations and giving tools and strategies to patients whose pain is impacting their quality of life.

Therapeutic Approaches in Pain Management

Psychotherapists employ a range of therapeutic techniques to address chronic pain. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – CBT is a widely used approach that helps individuals identify and modify negative thought patterns and behaviors that exacerbate pain. By fostering a more positive outlook and adaptive coping mechanisms, patients can alter their pain experience.
  • Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques – Techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation can reduce stress and tension, which are often linked to increased pain.
  • Biofeedback – This technique involves training patients to control physiological processes such as muscle tension, heart rate, and blood flow, which can contribute to pain levels.

Somatic therapy is also an approach that we use here at Flourish Psychology. Somatic therapy specifically addresses the mind/body connection, and provides tools and techniques to help them both communicate and function properly.

Addressing Emotional and Psychological Causes of Pain

Living with chronic pain often leads to emotional distress, including feelings of anger, sadness, or hopelessness. A psychotherapist can provide a supportive space to explore these feelings, offering strategies to manage emotional responses and improve mental health. This emotional support is integral to holistic pain management, increasing resilience and enhancing quality of life.

Effective coping strategies can then play an important role in managing chronic pain. A psychotherapist can help individuals develop and strengthen these strategies, including:

  • Pain Acceptance – Learning to accept pain as a part of life, without letting it define one’s identity or dictate life choices.
  • Activity Pacing – Teaching patients how to balance activity and rest to avoid pain flare-ups and maintain functionality.
  • Social Support – Encouraging the maintenance and development of supportive relationships to provide emotional support and reduce feelings of isolation.

Chronic pain is a multifaceted issue that requires a comprehensive approach to management. A psychotherapist can play a vital role in addressing the psychological and emotional dimensions of pain, complementing medical treatments. Through various therapeutic techniques, psychotherapists help individuals navigate the complexities of chronic pain, promoting coping strategies, emotional well-being, and an improved quality of life.

If you’re struggling with chronic pain, consider exploring how psychotherapy could be part of your holistic pain management plan. Contact Flourish Psychology today to get started.

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