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In the realm of art therapy, where creativity meets psychology, innovative techniques continue to emerge to help individuals navigate the path of healing and self-discovery. One such technique, bilateral drawing, has captured the attention of therapists and practitioners for its unique ability to modulate stress and aid in trauma reparation. In this article, we explore the origins of bilateral drawing, its applications, and its potential for fostering self-regulation.
Origins and Power of Bilateral Drawing
The roots of bilateral drawing can be traced back to art therapists who recognized the potential of engaging both sides of the brain through rhythmic and alternating movements. This technique, often referred to as “scribbling with both hands,” was coined as an expressive means to facilitate self-regulation. At its core, bilateral drawing involves spontaneous creation using chalks, pastels, or other art materials, where the emphasis is not on creating a specific image, but on the process of using both hands simultaneously.
Early pioneers like Florence Cane, an influential art therapy practitioner, observed the connection between gestural drawing, bodily movement, and the therapeutic experience. Cane’s work in the mid-20th century revealed that engaging the entire body in rhythmic movements could liberate creative expression and promote healthy rhythms within the mind and body. This principle laid the foundation for the concept of bilateral drawing, which incorporates bold gestures and large muscle groups to create an embodied, self-soothing experience.
Healing Trauma Through Bilateral Drawing
Bilateral drawing’s impact on trauma reparation lies in its ability to stimulate both hemispheres of the brain through the engagement of both hands. This process reflects the principles of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a treatment that directs focus away from past traumas and towards the present moment through bilateral sensory cues.
In the realm of processing, Su Mei from Art Tearapy experimented with the Bilateral Drawing reflective process. This approach involves processing the outcomes of drawing intentions from four different view angles: 90, 180, 270, and 360 degrees. This comprehensive method allows individuals to gain insight into their lives and experiences through various angles, offering a holistic perspective on their emotions, thoughts, and personal narratives.
The Power of Self-Regulation
Bilateral drawing serves as a versatile tool in the art therapist’s toolkit. It can be used to ground individuals, providing them with a novel and embodied experience that promotes self-regulation. Whether an individual’s trauma response leans towards hyperactivation or a freeze response, bilateral expressive work has shown promise in reducing distressing sensations and shifting focus towards action-oriented, self-empowered perspectives.
The act of drawing on both sides, a physical and metaphorical representation, taps into the brain’s innate capacity to restore balance and rhythm. By engaging both hemispheres of the brain, individuals can alter their internal rhythms, fostering a sense of well-being and self-regulation.
In conclusion, bilateral drawing has emerged as a potent technique in the field of art therapy, drawing on the interconnectedness of creativity, movement, and psychological healing. As we delve into the power of this technique, we invite you to explore the world of bilateral drawing and harness its potential for self-regulation and trauma reparation. So, pick up those pastels, and draw on both sides of your brain to pave the way for healing and growth.
Embark on a transformative journey of self-healing through art therapy with us at The Tearapy Post. Follow our blog for insights that blend creativity and well-being. Join our Art Therapy waitlist to prioritize your growth and self-discovery. Your healing canvas awaits your touch.
Without fear or favour,
Photo credit: www.irihipeti.com
- Malchiodi, C. 2015, www.psychologytoday.com
- Cane, F. (1951). The artist in each of us. London: Thames and Hudson.
- Malchiodi, C. (2003/2011). Art therapy and the brain. In C. Malchiodi (Ed.), Handbook of Art Therapy (pp. 17-26). New York: Guilford.
- McNamee, C. 2003 Bilateral art: Facilitating systemic integration and balance. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 30(5): 283-292. DOI: 10.1016/j.aip.2003.08.005
- Shapiro, F. (2001). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). New York: Guilford.
- Urhausen, M. T. (2015). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and art therapy with traumatized children. In C. Malchiodi (Ed.), Creative Interventions with Traumatized Children (pp. 45-74). New York: Guilford.