Art for Cancer Wellness: Caregivers Group
Facilitator: Connie Zabokrtsky, MA, ATR-P
Time: Thursdays, 4:30 PM to 5:45 PM EST
Frequency: Alternating weeks, starting June 23
Workshop Title: Caregiver Well-Being & Empowerment
Workshop Overview: Every other Thursday throughout the summer, caregivers will meet virtually for artmaking, self-reflection, group discussion, and mindful breath/body practices, facilitated by art therapist Connie Zabokrtsky. Designed to support caregivers in developing their own self-care practices, identify strengths, and foster coping skills, we’ll explore themes of balance, boundaries, connections, (re)framing, release, and empowerment. This is a conversational and experiential setting where caregivers are gently invited to engage with self and others in processes of awareness, renewal, and affirmation.
Each session adheres to a consistent structure providing continuity of process for participants. Sessions flow from check-in, guided breath/body practices for grounding, introduction of the session theme followed by an art experiential, self-reflection, group discussion, and a closing summary including suggestions for artmaking between sessions.
Theme Exploration and Arts Experientials Overview: Participants will be encouraged to tap into body, mind, emotional, and spiritual elements of self with intention and curiosity about cultivating an awareness of well-being.
Balance: What does it look and feel like? When do I need it? Where do I find it?Media: Watercolor paint and pencils, graphite pencil, black pen on watercolor paper
- Breath/Body Work: Introduce five-count box breathing to mindfully balance an inhale, hold, exhale, release pattern of self-regulated grounding (this will be a consistent reference for here-and-now self-care throughout the workshop).
- Theme Exploration: In a quick three-minute timeframe, explore what balance ‘looks like’ in an ephemeral assembly of objects (provided). Invite a group discussion of observations and feelings experienced during the process.
- Response Art: Use a Mandala to explore the forces of internal needs and external influences to feeling in and/or out of balance.
- Discussion: Invite sharing of what was created and how it felt to create/express oneself while allowing for group flow of reflections and discovery. Time permitting, participants will be invited to stand up for a guided exercise in balancing from foot to foot and recognize the space between balance points. We’ll breathe to ground and close.
- Breath/Body Work: Provide a guided body-scan on the contours and surfaces of our own body as tools of self-containment, sensory input, and communication.
- Theme Exploration: With further exploration of physical boundaries, we’ll identify the lines of our surrounding environmental boundaries (i.e., walls, doors) to visualize expanding and reducing our personal safe space using the motion of hands and arms.
- Response Art: Use a tracing of our own hand to create a personal Hand Zentangle of needs, wants, vulnerabilities, strengths, and voice in an exploration self-awareness and self-advocacy.
- Discussion: Invite sharing of what was created and how it felt to create it allowing for group flow of reflections and discovery. Share thoughts on developing patterns of communication with self and others to help set boundaries for well-being. Close with guided five-count box breathing for grounding and self-regulation skills-building.
- Breath/Body Work: Guided body awareness scan recognizing points of contact with our surroundings and focusing on the transitions between inhalation and exhalation.
- Theme Exploration: Engage in group conversation exchanging “Get to Know Me" information in an organic flow of empathic listening and caregiver voice while honoring personal and social boundaries appropriate to the setting and with facilitation, as needed. Sharing will not be required but will be encouraged to embody a mutual sense of safety and support in the group.
- Response Art: Render a Tree Metaphor Self-Portrait exploring connections between elements of self, our sources of personal power, and our landscape of relationships.
- Discussion: Invite sharing about what was created and how it felt to express our sense of self while allowing for group flow of reflections and discovery. Share thoughts on how caregivers can cultivate connections to support well-being. Close with an exchange of person-to-person affirmations and a group box breath.
- Breath/Body Work: Engage in five-count box breathing with a natural breath follow-up.
- Theme Exploration: Revisit the Tree Self-Portrait from the previous session. Using a cell phone or tablet camera, zoom in on elements of personal strength and power in your artwork. Click photos for quick reference. Engage in group discussion to verbally name strengths, attributes, and virtues. ‘I am’ statements will be encouraged.
- Response Art: Create a Super-Power Self-Portrait or Brain Map inspired by self-knowledge and empowerment using imagery and words. Use details from the Self-Portrait Tree for inspiration.
- Discussion: Invite sharing what was created and how it felt to express oneself while allowing for group flow of reflections and discovery. Share thoughts on how reframing strengths into skills may be helpful. Close with a demonstration of “Wow!” breathing. For artmaking in between sessions, invite participants to revisit their balance blocks (from week 1) and write their power words or symbols on the blocks to create interchangeable Power Towers as inspirational visual affirmations.
- Breath/Body Work: Engage in five-count box breathing followed by natural breath with audible exhalation.
- Theme Exploration: Using scrap paper and pen or pencil, write down a moment from the past week that was challenging or upsetting. Crumple the paper into a tight ball with both hands. Throw the paper across the room. Pause with the here-and-now feeling. Repeat the process three or four times with different memories. Take a breath to ground the group. How did it feel to transition from holding the experience internally and then giving it voice in an external space followed by using one’s body to alter the memories and release them?
- Response Art: Create, Release, and Reframe. Using color, shape, and line, render the feeling of a negative, upsetting, or challenging experience from the past week onto paper. Take about 10 minutes. When prompted, tear the image into pieces, hold them in your hands and then drop them onto the work surface. Breathe. Choose the pieces that you want or feel must be kept and collage them into your watercolor pad. Add any other elements you like to reframe new meanings, connections, boundaries, and a sense of balance. Create something new.
- Discussion: Invite sharing what was released and created and how it felt to engage in both while allowing for group flow of reflections and discovery. Remind the group of the upcoming final session. Engage in five-count box breathing with mindful exhalation to close.
- Breath/Body Work: Engage in five-count box breathing with a natural breath follow-up and a “Wow!” breath with arm stretch.
- Theme Exploration: Using a glass touchstone trace six to eight circles on paper and add color and patterns to each. Revisit artwork from previous sessions and write down words that inspire/ affirm a sense of well-being.
- Response Art: Create a series of Affirmation Touchstones for grounding and self-affirmation.
Discussion: Engage in a group conversation reflecting on participant observations and feelings about using the workshop tools outside of sessions. What was helpful and how were elements adapted for individual well-being? Invite sharing of their affirmation words and how they might use them to ground and self-regulate in the future. Close with an exchange of person-to-person affirmations and a group box breath.