When was the last time you took a selfie?
How many photos did you take before you found the one that looked “just right?”
When was the last time you took an “internal selfie?”
I like to use this idea of an internal selfie with my clients. I get them to draw an outline of their body on a large piece of paper and then do a body scan. A body scan in art therapy is where you pay attention to the different parts of your body and represent this on the paper.
I get my clients to close their eyes, breathe deeply and notice what is happening within them at that particular time. Their ‘internal selfie’. I have them imagine the colour, line, texture and shape of each body part and then when they are ready, they draw/colour this on their body outline.
Once they have finished the entire body, we then have a look at it.
Body scans are not necessarily ‘pretty’, but they give lots of information about what is happening in the present moment and our reaction to those bodily and emotional sensations. Once we become aware of what is going on internally, we are able to make decisions about how to respond.
When people are having health problems, are struggling with stress or anxiety, the body scan lets us examine how the person is feeling about that and how it is affecting them. People often say they have ‘butterflies in their tummy’ when they are anxious and as a result they may actually draw something that looks similar to butterflies or churning in the abdominal area of their body. Sometimes health concerns are represented as black/brown/murky shapes.
When you are aware of what is happening internally, you can take steps to address it.
I like to get my clients to re-draw the areas of concern with how they would like them to look. For example, instead of a tangled mess inside their stressed head, a client might draw a lovely colourful and organised rainbow.
I have personally found this activity to be very helpful, especially when I have been feeling worried or confused about something. It is also a wonderful activity to do with children who may not have the words to describe what is going on for them at the time.
Next time you are setting up for the perfect selfie, why not take a moment to take an internal one as well. You may be surprised at how it turns out.