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Nicole Verret

9/21/2015

LEI 4724

Wall of Barriers
Citation Source: Simmons, L.L. (2006). Interactive art therapy. New York: Routledge.
Equipment Needed: Pencil, colored pencil, markers or crayons. White paper sized 8 1/2x 11
or 11x17; a quiet room with seating and preferably tables for each individual to sit at.
Activity Description: This activity is designed for 1:1 work with a client who is having
difficulty with barriers in their life which are preventing them from goals. This may be a useful
tool to help if a therapist has been working with a client and sees a pattern, in helping the client
to self-identify and seek out their own solutions. In therapy solutions rarely work if the therapist
just hands them to the client, but rather the client has to want to change, as well as hold stake in
the solutions. May times in literature regarding psychotherapy this is referred to as doing the
work. In a one on one session, the opening would occur as it normally does, but when
introducing the directive you would be sharing that for todays session you will be working with
art materials. The participant would be invited to think about what some of their challenges are in
life, what are their goals and what is standing in the way of getting them. This activity is
focusing on connecting to emotions, working on emotional regulation, fine motor skills and
communication skills.
Leadership Considerations: This is not an introductory activity, this would best be completed
with an individual with whom a good rapport has been built, so that so that the participant feels
comfortable to be open not only in creating art (which can be a vulnerable experience) but also to
really talk with the therapist about the metaphor of what the drawing is. This activity would
require a leader who has strong listening stills, and who is not looking to provide all of the
answers or rescue the participant. Allow them to struggle, guide them in the right directions but
ultimately allow them to decide their own path. It is important however for the facilitator to be
mindful and guide the conversation. The brick wall may be pre-drawn, where only a few words
need to be written down. It is important that the participant does not feel overwhelmed by the
scope. It is also important to have discussion points prepared to help the participants to take the
challenges and turn them into positives. This may be done through role-playing to practice
possible solutions.
Adaptations: This activity can easily be translated away from art into a more physical activity
for example you could use jenga blocks or any other small block materials at a table top
perhaps for a client who is needing to focus not only on the emotional aspects but also building
up coordination, fine and gross motor skills. The blocks can be verbally labeled as elements of
challenges in a participants life, or actually labeled, with tape, post-its, stickers, etc. This can be
done with virtually any age, or any physical or emotional disability. A secondary adaptation
could be for clients who have developmental disabilities, and whom the initial directive may be
too open ended to provide a topic or point of focus. For example, asking internal obstacles or
challenges make it hard for you to participate in games with other kids? It is important to have a
variety of ways to express this question and to make sure the vocabulary is age appropriate.
The facilitator can also be a co-participant, with any of these variations; the leader can take turns
adding a block with their perception of a challenge.