During my final year in the graduate program, I interned at a site where I worked with a population that I have in-depth personal history with: individuals living with Substance Use Disorders (SUDs). Due to my history, working with this population elicited increased countertransference, consequently making my self-care practice crucial. Through art-making as an act of self-care, I was able to process personal history and document a growing awareness of my inner world.
These artworks speak to my experiences of the secondary isolation that permeates from addiction, and how these experiences transcend into my personal and therapeutic practices. Naming the isolation through the metaphor of ghouls and exploring this metaphor artistically began to become empowering. The ghouls began to transcend isolation and they became a safe way to represent personal experiences. The focus of my artmaking shifted into practicing compassion and exploring whether using compassion-focused therapy in conjunction with art therapy could deepen and facilitate a stronger sense of self.
This self-inquiry aims to better understand how self-compassion and empathy can be explored through creation and metaphor to professionally develop and increase my therapeutic presence as an emerging art therapist. The secondary isolation that I experienced due to substance use has been reframed and rewritten through these artworks. They explore the breakdown and re-ownership of self-concept. Exploring self-compassion through creation and metaphor could potentially benefit the future utilization of compassion-focused art therapy as an act of self-care for clinicians and clients alike.
Title: Ghoulish Overkill