Touch Drawing Community

Questions about Witnessing: the balance between sharing.... and privacy in the facilitation of touch drawing....

Hi everyone, I wanted to share that I successfully facilitated my first touch drawing workshop Oct 14. It was the main part of a staff retreat for my colleagues of spiritual care givers at an acute care hospital in Edmonton. There were 6 of us altogether, they were my friends, and eager to experience this process as a spiritual experience. The retreat was from 1pm - 9pm and included two touch drawing sessions. We also had about one hour free time before supper. (We used it to go for a beautiful walk along the river).

I was pleased with the event.... I would like to hear from the group about a couple of things though. I know that in doing something like this, there are a lot of variables to balance.  At the start of the first session I talked about feeling free to share..or not.   After the first session, I asked the particpants to number, name, and then share their drawings through the "witness process". I had no qualms about my colleagues doing this in a kind, respectful way...as it is very similar to the way we do our work with patients. One participant, however, said that had she known that we would share in that way, she would not have gone into the particular personal material in the touch drawing that she did. Apparently, she didn't really want others to see.....and even though I had said participants could share or not, she still went ahead and did the witness process slightly albeit uncomfortably. How do others of you hold the tension between the safety of privacy in which you can really enter deeply into your soul work, and the empathic, validation of being heard through the witness process. In the evening session I asked participants to select one drawing that has energy for them....and provided them with a few ways to journal with it...and go deeper. They were invited to share at closing time... or simply hold up their picture.... or not. This allowed for more privacy. Any thoughts?

I am hoping that other departments in our hospital might use this process of a way of nurturing their staff.....I do have concerns about a manager who arranges this for his or her team, and then the staff feeling coercion about doing a spiritual process that they are not comfortable with. I'd appreciate any comments about this too.
Thanks for the forum.... I appreciate a place to go to with thoughts and questions. Deborah

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I'll jump in here, too, though I really would like this kind of vital discussion to have a permanant forum here. I always try to remember to say that no one is required to share with a partner. I encourage people to, and say that often people who were shy to share end up being happy that they did, but I say if there is some reason you feel what you did was on a level that you need to keep private, that is fine. Usually everyone chooses to share! But the permission NOT to seems to make a difference. It feels less invasive because it is by choice. Also, I say that you can look at drawings in silence, and that you do not need to expose personal associations/meanings if you do not want to....

In terms of the word spiritual - the experience is what it is no matter what it is called, if the facilitator is clear in the holding of it. If the context is inappropriate for spiritual language, I try to use appropriate language. Real things happen for people whether we call it spiritual or not....and I agree with Cynthia that permission to experience TD on whatever level is appropriate is really helpful. I try to prepare people for a range of experiences, saying that for some people childlike play will be the most wonderful and appropriate experience, for others release of deep feeling; honoring the uniqueness of each persons experience and valuing that. You as facilitator can uphold in your heart the most appropriate experience for each person, which in my mind IS spiritual.
Hi Deborah, I am glad you found me!! Thank you for your very good phrases and wordings to use with participants about sharing. During my event, I could see how fluid the event was... how words can help shape and hold.... and what comes from the participants is so alive. I had the sense of really not wanting to squash "aliveness" and wanting to support it. In speaking with the participant some more about the reluctance to share.... she said that because she knew her partner quite well and is someone that she works with.... she knew that she didn't want to share. If her partner had been someone that she didn't know... and likely wouldn't see again.... she would have been freer to share. So, in her case, anonymity would have allowed for an easier sharing. I suppose this is different for different people. This tells me again how sacred and vulnerable soul work can be. Deborah
I am thinking deeply about the wisdom here from you all. Participants at the workshop I'm facilitating on Saturday are mostly counselors and art therapists. They will need options regarding sharing. Thank you.
In a setting among co-workers, there are unique issues around the need for pprivacy. It is particulalry important to honor that in a sitation of this nature.
There are some nice spots for private contemplation and reflection throughout the museum, which is usually sparsely visited. I can offer that as an option.
That sounds nice Katherine. Are you planning to do one session of drawing? And how many participants will you have? Deborah
29 participants, though SNOW is expected on Friday, the day before the workshop and most people are coming from some distance. Hopefully just flurries. I've planned two sessions of drawing.
What a good size group! up here in Edmonton Alberta it is a beautiful sunny week. Quite a bit warmer that seasonal. May whatever weather you experience for the weekend not get in the way. May everyone arrive and depart safely.
Thank you so much Deborah and everyone for the support. It is a good size group, I've had to close registration and set a limit because of space. Had no idea there would be so much interest.
Thanks also for the mental picture of Edmonton in November!

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