A Stressed and Worried Entrepreneur Uses Art Therapy

Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses artmaking for mental well-being. I am going to describe a case, with pseudonyms, to highlight the type of work I do. Jane was a 50-year-old woman who initially came to see me for stress and anxiety. When she came, she said that she felt restless, had racing thoughts, stomach aches and was unable to sleep. She was also worried about the COVID 19 pandemic. Recently, the business she where she was employed went bankrupt. Jane used to have a business and personal relationship with the owner of the company.

When she lost her job, Jane became an entrepreneur and started to freelance. She was nervous about her business skills, but she landed a big contract with a new firm that paid very well. Her boss was a freelancer too now and applied for this job. However, she heard that Jane got this contract and became angry. Jane had always liked her boss and felt badly that she was struggling. She knew how much she put into her business. However, the boss started to give her false negative reviews and slander her professional skills within the community. When Jane described how she was feeling both emotionally and physically we can understand why. Anyone would be upset by these events.

During the pandemic, it is not uncommon that businesses go bankrupt and people are out of work. However, people's natural survival instincts kick in. We become understandably worried about our basic needs not being met for food and shelter. Another thing to consider is that losing a job and business can be a form of loss and trauma because people's identity is linked to their work. It can be a difficult transition for people. Losing a business, job and retirement are a form of stress.

I asked Jane to choose any materials, colours or images that may reflect her feelings and emotions related to this situation. She chose to depict herself as being consumed by a large red, angry monster. She said she wanted to get away from it, but she felt consumed by it. Her heart and soul that she put into her career, was represented by hearts and yellow papers falling away into a river below. She wrote a few words that represented how she felt such as, "victim, hard work gone to waste, unsafe, afraid and can't progress". When asked how she thought the red monster felt, she said hurt, desperate, angry and with displaced anger. The red colour of the monster and orange swirls represented anger and attacking behavior.

Art Therapy Guelph Stressed Woman Case

I asked Jane if she could think of anything that could help her feel better in this situation. Even if it was fantasy, she could represent it in the art, with any colours or materials. So Jane drew herself with a large pin, popping the red monster. This let its air out and made it blow away. It is much smaller, taking up less space in her life. She said she felt a great sense of release creating this picture. She drew a yellow line around herself. It represented positivity and boundaries. She discussed that she would consult a lawyer for guidance with this issue. She needed to protect herself and stop this person. Jane drew a basket, with a heart on it, representing her heart and soul and work. She would give it to people and be compensated for it because she deserves it. Her new list of words was "send away with love, set firm boundaries, stand her ground, self compassion and knowing she is worthy."

art therapy guelph stressed woman 2

Working with an art therapist creates a safe place for you to share your story. Art therapy can be a powerful tool for mental well being. It provides a release expressing one's emotions, thoughts and story in the art making. In doing this, people take the information stored in their mind and body and place it in the art.  Art therapy also helps people work through issues, providing clarity, to find coping strategies.

If you are interested in art therapy and how we can help, book a free get acquainted chat today. https://arttherapyguelph.com