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Hi Artsy,

I (re-)discovered I loved to paint when I spent a week in River Oaks Hospital in 2005. I have always
doodled and sketched but I didn't discover watercolors until then. As soon as I began to paint I remembered a scene from grammar school, me with a painting apron on standing at my own easel. Joy, pure joy.

I painted a lot that week and shared the pictures with my therapist. I am very lucky that I can afford
therapy, and my therapist, though not an art therapist per se, is always very insightful. If I didn't have
her to share with I don't think it would feel safe to paint.

I go through periods of painting and then feeling like I don't remember how to and can't possibly try to
paint anymore. I become intimidated by my own pictures. Sometimes my pictures simply scare me.

So I'm wondering, if you can create safety around painting then it can be a great outlet. But if you
don't have anyone to share with, can you be around what you paint and remain safe? I am not sure I could.
So please take care. 

Mona V.


Hi, Artsy,

I think perhaps my experiences can help with your question. I feel that interpreting your art
is not nearly as important as just doing it. All of my alters have expressed themselves through art over the
years, both pre and post-consciousness, and when the time is right they will bring their issue to your
attention, but in the meantime art is a safe way for them to work out their conflicts and problems. They
can't get in trouble for being a cartoon or a character in a fiction work, so it's a safe outlet.

Interpretation takes time and understanding, too. I do a lot of writing, but my alters mostly like to express
themselves through little 8 page comic books that we've drawn since we were ten (I, the host, am now 38.
Yes, I have a big closet). Now that I know my alters, I can match them to their characters and figure out
what's upset them pretty easily, but the real value is the process, not the interpertation, because it allows
them to express themselves.

Actually, a therapist may be the least person able to interpret your art. Well trained art therapists are
rare. My therapist helps becusae I read her the comics, and usually while doing that the issues become
clearer. But she isn't able to interpret it at all. 



Dear Artsy,

It's probably not a good idea to try to interpret your own art work, not on a deeper therapeutic level anyway. It's like therapists don't diagnose themselves. Most of us don't have the training to do art therapy, and it would take more then a few books and websites to gain that knowledge. It could actualy be harmful; you could think you see something in your art and cause unnecessary distress and anxiety over something that isn't even there.

Maybe you could try contacting an art therapist or occupational therapist. Ask if they know of any art therapy groups (probbaly less expensive) or find a website where clients post their work, see how others illustrate their feelings, see if anything clicks or resonates with you.

But I would leave the therapy and analysis to the professionals. They have the advantage of being outside your mind (even though it may feels as if you are much of the time as well).They can see things without the bias of your thoughts and beliefs.

If money is the issue, there are many places that will do sliding scale. Find a graduate school program in therapy, psychology, art therapy etc.There are almost always graduate level students who need clients (they have supervision by a seasoned therapist). Some options as far as resources: your town may have 211 (like 411). It's a free number for social services resources. There is or Google it you'll find it (while online, be wary of over- the-net therapy).


Hi, Artsy,

It's great that you know you have artistic strengths, it's a good, healing way to be in the world, for me too. 

1. There is a book called The Artist's Way , by Julie Cameron, that goes into how people like us can use our artistic skills to heal, it does describe what roadblocks you can run into and suggests what to do about them. 

2. I love to be in the water, i.e. in pools, especially warm water ones that are called "therapy pools". Often they have these at YMCA's for little money, or in some citys' Parks and Rec. Centers. It is safe, feels comfortable because you don't have to move to stay warm, and if you let it, the water mostly holds you up. I love to move some in the water, gently, and it feels like it is dancing. There is a safety in it, nobody asks you what you are doing, and it is soothing.

Good luck,




Dear Artsy,

We like your letter to Many Voices. We play music, do poetry, write books, and now even found we can do drawings. We focus mainly on mandalas. So we hope that you keep in touch with us. We be many yet feel somewhat safe now that we started seeing our therapists 2 months ago. Yes the money thing, big issue. But we get did therapist who has not charged yet. We thank she be county paid. She is a licesned DID therapist at the mental hospital where we live.

We have not found any resource places that provide this in answer to your first question.
the 2nd question we have answered already at the beginning of our letter.
Sara and all who dare come!