During a time in my life when I was feeling lost, stuck, and questioning many things; my good friend Elizabeth invited me to join her at an Introduction to SoulCollage® workshop. Immediately I felt critical, “I’m an art therapist and I’ve never heard of this, it’s just collaging, right?” I asked. I agreed to join Elizabeth because I loved spending time with her and I loved creating, but I had already decided with my limited awareness that there wasn’t much that I would learn that I couldn’t do on my own.
The workshop facilitators had an abundance of materials that were beautifully laid out, they briefly explained the process, and we began creating. I immediately felt myself enter into a meditative state. I was in the flow and feeling so much joy while letting the images silently choose me. Everyone in the room seemed to be thoroughly content with their processes. Some people had even moved into the corners of the room and spread out to work on the floor.
I created a few cards and felt that I had a sense of what they meant to me. Next, we were called to gather in a circle. This surprised me, I wasn’t aware that we would be sharing…I began to feel panic as I tried to think about which card I wanted to share and what I might say! The facilitators (and the group as a whole) supported each group member in a specific process designed to help us learn to open up our hearts and learn to speak directly from and through our images.
As I spoke, someone scribed the words that came out of my mouth. I was surprised, I had a lot to say and none of it seemed connected to anything that I had rehearsed in my head during my moment of panic. When I felt my image was finished speaking, my scribe read my own words back to me. I listened openly as I looked at my collage. I wondered how those words came from me? Tears began to run down my cheeks as I finally heard and felt my own truth with clarity. I had been introduced to a part of myself that had so much depth and wisdom.
We held sacred space for each person in the group to express and even possibly consciously “meet” a new part of themselves for the first time. Our perspectives had shifted, our self-awareness had expanded. It was an honor to share this process with so many others who were also on this journey of self-discovery. It felt safe, contained, and healing.
For the next year I attended more workshops with Elizabeth, and weekends became time to quietly collage, journal, and uncover more and more about myself. SoulCollage® became my daily practice – something I could hold onto when I felt lost. I would take time each day to pull a card and work with it, and I would continue to find clarity each time.
I found SoulCollage® to be so profoundly healing that I felt a pull deep within myself to train to learn to share this process with others. In November of 2011 I applied to work directly with Seena Frost in a work-study situation and she accepted. In January, 2012 I found myself on a plane to Santa Cruz and next thing I knew I was assisting Seena and Kylea in setting up for the training.
Once again, I thought I knew what I was in for. I had been using this process daily for a year and felt I really understood SoulCollage®. A few days into the training, Seena let us know that we were going to learn how to use our decks more deeply. She gently guided us in working with different ways to use our decks in readings for ourselves using multiple cards. My mind was blown. I thought, "there are more ways to use these cards?"
We were directed to write down a question or theme in our life. We then pulled cards to help answer the question. Again, I spoke from each card’s images and someone in the group scribed. The difference was that this time many parts of myself had an opportunity to give me guidance on my one area of question.
As I listened with my open heart to what had been scribed, I immediately began crying uncontrollably. I felt the truth of my own words in the core of my being, I had validation on many levels from so many parts of myself. I had spent a year running circles in my head about how and when to move on to the next step in my life, feeling guilty and afraid. After one hour of working with my cards with a group in a reading for myself, I knew exactly what the next step was and I wasn’t willing to waste another second questioning.
That day was Seena’s birthday. Following the life-changing experience of my reading we all sang to her and shared cake; we celebrated this incredible process that she had worked with and developed for so many years. We celebrated how she had not only changed her own life and all of our lives for the better, but also the ways that her work was rippling out into the world through the work of all of the facilitators that she had trained internationally. It was a beautiful, sweet day.
I left that training a changed person. I returned home to my job at an agency and gave my notice. I found an office and started running SoulCollage® groups as I began to grow my private practice. Whenever I felt stuck or needed guidance I worked with my cards and listened to my own wisdom. I opened a second office in southern Maine and began offering trainings for therapists to begin to learn how to introduce this process into their own self-care practice, and for use with their clients. I traveled around New England offering these workshops and trainings, as well as trainings about art therapy.
Last year my colleague Stephanie Cimmet, LCPC, ATR-BC and I created “The Self-Compassion Symposium” in Freeport, Maine and plan on co-hosting it annually. A three-hour SoulCollage® for Self-Compassion workshop is offered for those interested in experiencing the process for the first time or those interested in continuing their own personal work with SoulCollage®, as well as many other creative healing workshops lead by therapists trained in the Expressive Arts.
Today is my birthday, and I felt inspired to honor my own journey and to honor the impact that Seena Frost’s work has had on my life as well as everyone that I have shared this process with. If you haven’t tried SoulCollage®, I highly recommend attending a workshop with an open heart and an open mind. Sometimes the tools that we end up enjoying the most catch us by surprise, and we are only able to discover them through personal experience!