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Reconnecting with Art Therapy: Artwork by Alum Debbie D.

By: Debbie D., Renfrew Alum

Posted on November 04, 2020

Debbie D art 1Debbie D art 2really enjoyed the art therapy session yesterday. It reinforced how far I have come in attempting to conquer my eating disorder. I was in residential treatment at The Renfrew Center of Coconut Creek, Florida in 2013. I was also briefly there again in 2017.  

These are the pictures I drew to represent my feelings while in treatment, in contrast to how I am feeling today:

In the first top picture (the past), I was in a huge storm with lightning crashing down from overhead. The ocean was filled with huge waves, and it was dark outside. I was hidden inside a small boat that was hopelessly being tossed up and down. I felt helpless and unable to steer the boat. 

In the second bottom picture (the present), I am near an ocean that has predictably-moving gentle tides. It is a sunny day, and there is a small hill beside the water. The hill has shrubbery on it and maybe a trail to walk on. The ocean has creatures in it. I can see crawling starfish and swimming fish. It also has beautiful rock formations. As I stand there, I am able to see and appreciate the smaller details of the scenery. 

Before I began to draw, I was very afraid I would not be able to draw anything. I have not done any art projects since leaving Renfrew, so my creativity had been hibernating for a long time.  

As I worked on the project, my apprehension melted into satisfaction and pride. If I were to do a third picture (the future), it would have other people in it with more sea animals and birds. My awareness of my surroundings would increase significantly. I would also cherish the experience even more.

To make the changes for the third potential picture, I need to keep working with my therapist. I also need to practice the things I learn from our conversations. The method I use to apply these concepts is to take notes during each session. Then I read the notes over many times. Sometimes I make index cards to place in prominent places.

I also need to set goals that align with my values and work to achieve those goals. One of my goals is to help others with eating disorders. In the past, I helped organize an eating disorder support group. We met for close to a year. I also spoke to an intensive outpatient group near me about my journey to recovery.

- Artwork and description by Renfrew alumna Debbie D.


This is the second of three installments sharing artwork created by participants of the September 2020 virtual alumni workshop "Reconnecting with Art Therapy," led by Sondra Rosenberg, ATR-BC, Creative Arts Therapies Supervisor at The Renfrew Center.

If you are an alumni who is interested in attending a "Reconnecting with Art Therapy" workshop, the next one will be on Tuesday, November 17, from 6 – 7:30 p.m. EST. Click here to register.

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