Heather Brown is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Registered Art Therapist, Advanced Certified Trauma Practitioner and owner of Brown Counseling, LLC. She facilitates a six week art therapy group and I had the privilege to attend one of the sessions. This group is open “…for anyone who values their own creativity and want to come to a safe space to playfully and meaningfully make art with others” and is held at Light Box in Detroit.
Even though I was only able to attend one day, I knew the art therapy group facilitated by Heather Brown would be beneficial. Heather has such a calm presence that I always feel better just being around her and participating in this group felt the same. Initially, I was reluctant to attend and thought of a dozen other things that I needed to do. But realized my resistance to meeting new people and working in groups is exactly why I needed to go. I didn’t know what to expect and had never been to this particular area in Detroit before. It was easy to find the address, but the building itself didn’t show signs of being open and there was only one car in the parking lot. I thought maybe I was in the wrong place and would just go home… but I decided to drive around the front one more time and then I saw the word -Light – high up on one of the outside walls. I was in the right place. I parked my car and just as I was about to go in the building, Heather opened the door.
The large open space was filled with tables arranged in separate areas with art supplies all around. In one area there were cushions arranged in a circle on the floor with art supplies in the center. When the other participants arrived, Heather began the group by inviting us to sit on the floor cushions and work on a mandala as way to “check in” with ourselves and our intentions for the day. (Part of my reluctance to attend the group is my discomfort with anyone looking at (judging) my artwork and my discomfort with being required to talk about or explain what my artwork is about). Thankfully, Heather didn’t require any of that – she invited us to share about our work and intentions, but only if we felt called to share. Knowing I wouldn’t be singled out was a relief. Heather also mentioned a few times to check in with ourselves and with our bodies to see how we were feeling. Her calm, soothing manner was so welcoming and such a contrast to my own inner nervousness of which I was now very aware. Am I always this anxious? I hadn’t realized until now how busy my thoughts are – it seemed like a constant buzz of insecure chatter.
As the session progressed and we began working on our art, I realized how much I needed to set aside this time for myself and be present with the art. And to be present in in such a safe and comfortable atmosphere. And as I worked I thought about the textures and colors of my art – I thought the way I was arranging the smaller elements – I thought about how calm I felt…. I didn’t think of all the things I needed to get done – I didn’t think about being nervous or judged in a new group. That “buzz” in my head diminished. I was aware of the art in front of me. I was aware of the safe space surrounding me.
In the description of the art therapy workshop Heather writes, “Art Therapy lets you experience yourself and life in a new way that supports emotional well-being, offers clarity, relieves insecurities, and allows you to express yourself with more than words.” This was my experience. As an art therapist myself, I understand the inherent healing power of art and creating art.
As a human, I also understand the feelings that come with being unsure of a situation, feeling insecure about my artwork, and I know how difficult it can be to show up and be present. This workshop is worth it and Heather will put you at ease.
The next group will take place Tuesday evenings from 6-8pm May 24th to June 14th for sliding scale cost of $100-$125 for the series or $25-$35 for a drop in. For more information, please visit Brown Counseling, LLC online.