Complementary therapies

According to holistic nursing philosophy, nurses must learn self-care and self-awareness before they can heal others. This week we will explore art therapy, a practice that used to express feelings, relieve stress, improve creativity, and increase self-awareness. Please see the art therapy class exercise attachment below for instructions on this activity.


After completing the art activity post to Forum 1 the following:


  1. A self-introduction
  2. What you drew
  3. Your thought as and feelings surrounding your drawing
  4. How this activity related to one aspect of this week’s required reading from the text book, the posted art therapy article, or the AHNA website. Cite the reading you have chose APA style meaning it must be cites both in the text with a full reference at the end of your posting.
  5. Either scan or take a picture of your drawing with your cell phone and attach it to the forum.
  6. Respond in a substantive way to at least one other  classmate. See the course schedule for due times.


Note: If you only write a paragraph you are probably not going deep enough!!


Art Therapy Exercise

The unconscious mind has a wealth of information in which to help solve problems, and this is one way to problemsolve. The language of the unconscious mind speaks (nonverbally) in colors, symbols, metaphors, etc., which are mostly right brain cognitive skills.

For this exercise choose a drawing media (crayons, colored pencils, chalk etc…) and a blank piece of paper. Then draw one of the following:

  • An expression of how you feel when you are either angry or afraid
  • A sketch of yourself (how you see yourself either real or symbolic)
  • Close your eyes and draw a line on the paper. Then open your eyes and slowly rotate the paper around until an image appears. Complete the image with lines and color.
  • A mandala (a circular-shaped personal coat of arms with four quadrants depicting four aspects of your lives that are important to you)
  • A dream image (recurring dreams work the best here)
  • House or a tree
  • Draw whatever you wish!


Once you have finished your drawing, reflect on what your picture means, what you have gained or learned, and how you feel. You may wish to use the color guide below to help with your interpretations.  Although there are exceptions, there is a consensus among art therapists (and even psychologists) that regardless of gender, nationality, or ethnic upbringing, each color used in art therapy represents an archetypal meaning. Typically, the color selection, as well as the objects drawn (house, tree, etc.), often parallel emotional expressions of one’s mental/emotional health. The absence of a color does not mean a lack of something, rather the colors used express that which the unconscious mind wishes to covey at the time of the drawing. The following suggests associations between colors and their archetypal meanings.**

  • Red: Passionate emotional peaks (from pleasure to pain) can represent either compassion or anger.
  • Orange: Suggests a life change (big or small, and typically more positive than negative).
  • Yellow: Represents energy (usually a positive message).
  • Green and Blue: Suggest happiness and joy (blue may even mean creativity). These colors also suggest a strong sense/desire for groundedness and stability in your environment.
  • Purple/Violet: Suggests a highly spiritual nature, unconditional love.
  • Brown (and earth tone colors): A sense of groundedness and stability.
  • Black: Can either represent grief, despair, fear, or a sense of personal empowerment.
  • White: Can either mean fear, avoidance, cover-up, or hope.
  • Grey: Typically represents a sense of ambiguity, uncertainty about some issue you are working on.

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