Art Therapy with Adolescents and Young Adults
I’m an art therapist in Waterville, Maine. I’ve been in the field of art therapy for eight years and opened a private practice last summer. One of my greatest joys in life is helping people express themselves in creative ways. I’m always interested in gaining new tools to help support people in their healing processes, because everyone expresses themselves differently.
Two years ago, at a workshop in California, I was talking with a therapist about art therapy and the creative process. She asked if I’d ever heard of OH Cards. I admitted that I hadn’t and when I returned home I began researching them. I quickly discovered that OH Cards would fit in perfectly with the creative work I do with my clients.
I wanted to attend an OH workshop to receive training about how to use the cards, but I couldn’t find one locally. I emailed the OH Cards publisher, Moritz Egetmeyer, who lives in Germany, and asked him if he ever held workshops in the U.S. He said he happened to have a dear friend in Maine and so he might come here for a visit the following year.
I waited patiently until the following summer and again emailed Moritz. This time, he let me know that he was, in fact, planning to be in Maine during the summer, and he gave me the date of the OH workshop that was planned. Unfortunately, due to a family obligation, I was unable to attend, but Moritz offered to meet with me and a colleague individually for an afternoon to introduce me to the OH process.
That day, I experienced firsthand the power of OH Cards and was able to see and handle many different beautiful OH decks. I was amazed at how easy it was to go deeper with the cards in an instant. I bought as many decks as I could afford from Moritz, and then went home and ordered a few more online!
Working with OH
I’ve used OH Cards in many different ways and am finding that in each session I’ve been able to think of new creative ways to work with the cards, depending on the unique situation of the client. I work primarily with adolescents and young adults on a range of issues including trauma, eating disorders, and grief. It’s often difficult for many of my clients to express in words how they feel. OH Cards provide an experience that takes the pressure off of the client to think. Instead, they’re able to enter into the card image and connect with what it brings up in them, or connect with the way a card expresses something about who they are or what their situation is.
I often incorporate art-making as a response to the work with the cards, so that the client is able to anchor in the lessons from the session. They often take their positive and inspirational creations home with them. One of the methods I used this week that was interesting was that my client and I took turns telling part of a story together after each flipping over some cards. At the end of the story, I asked the client to choose the cards that stood out the most for her and line them up. She quickly chose five of the cards. She was then asked to enter into those images and use her intuition to give herself guidance about the struggle she was presenting in our session that day.
Next, I asked her to create an image incorporating the images on the five cards, to serve as a visual affirmation that she could put up on her bedroom wall at home and use as a reminder to stay focused on her own positive guidance that week if she began feeling confused or down. After using OH Cards, even if the session was about something very challenging, my clients have said things like, “That was fun!” and “Let’s do that again!” or “Can we do that the next time, too?”
I’ve recently discovered the COPE deck and find it to be very powerful, especially in work with clients on issues of trauma, grief, and eating disorders. I’ve witnessed many clients who struggle with speaking open up within seconds when using OH Cards. The cards seem to provide something comforting for the client to focus on and even to hold while speaking. I’ve only recently begun my experience with OH Cards, but now that I’ve experienced their power, for myself and through working with my clients, I’ll be using them for a lifetime!