It’s been a whole year since we started doing ‘Drawing and Talking’ sessions at RD…and what a year it’s been!
I started this course last January and doing it with willing students and even though Covid-19 has interrupted us no end it has also meant it is even more valuable to have this listening time with students in these unusual times.
What is Drawing and Talking?
Drawing and Talking started in early 2000 and there are over 40,000 practitioners globally. It is a weekly session with a child or young adult where they draw and talk to a trusted adult to help them understand feelings and emotions they may be having that could be affecting their behaviour, self-esteem, relationships, learning and general state of mind.
Putting pencil to paper with even the smallest doodle and talking about it can unleash a train of thoughts that otherwise can be difficult to say out loud and often the drawings are very imaginative, sometimes funny, sad or even get thrown in the bin. Whatever appears, it is always a talking point.
Drawing and Talking sessions can also be done with adults and as a group, after the intial training, as a practicing member you are supported with monthly coaching calls and a support group.
Being consistent is very important – same person, same time, same place, 30 minutes per week for 12 weeks, freedom to draw anything but always paper and pencil – chosen medium for ease of control. The idea is to be safe and contained, stable and reliable very different from an ‘Art’ lesson, in DT there is no ‘good’ or ‘bad drawings, but a ‘free pass’ to draw anything in your head, without judgement.
Sometimes they ask for an idea and sometimes they even ask me to be quiet and close my eyes and listen to the pencil – they can stop whenever they like and talk about it… or not! Part of the process is feeling like you have the control to choose how much you do of each – important if you are feeling like other things in life are out of your control.
Each week when they have finished their session – their picture is titled and a date and number written on the picture and then it is ceremoniously put in a folder with assurance that it will be kept safely in the drawer until next time – the drawings are special and looked after – ‘they’ are loved and safe no matter what is drawn or said. Every outcome, even a blank page is titled and put in the folder, so even torn up pieces are collected and it is all given back in the last week when the student can do whatever they choose with it.
Rule 1 ‘Survival’
This process can be difficult – there are things to be faced. It’s really important to feel comfortable and trusting in order to feel like doing any of it, so the first rule is survival – survive the drawing, the thinking, the questions, the answers, the feelings and the inevitable silences. It’s a credit to the young person’s resilience if they manage to come back each week and do it – definitely not an easy thing to do and harder as you get into teens.
Rule 2: You must enter into the world of the drawing!
This is the best part, essential – entering their imaginative world – you cannot ask appropriate questions if you can’t allow yourself to be there and see what the person is seeing or ask them to explain it. The young person themselves is never spoken about directly – we just talk about the picture – about the world laid out in front of them on the paper and the stories can be plain and simple or they run away with unbridled imagination.
Over the 12 weeks, going through 3 distinct stages, a symbolic and metaphoric resolution is found to their internal conflicts and the result is that emotions, relationships and access to learning are improved.
It is one of many ways we can help students feel confident and secure and how to acknowledge their feelings and issues they may be dealing with.
Last month the first student finally completed their 12-week session and I was delighted to see the result as they were given back their folder and saw 3 months of drawings and titles laid out in front of them. The delight and pride on their face as they remembered each picture and recounted their feelings was worth every hurdle.
Drawing and Talking sessions can also be done with adults and as a group practitioner you are supported with monthly coaching calls and a support group.
More information avout Drawing and Talking can be found here: Drawing & Talking Home – Drawing & Talking drawingandtalking.com