Sketching has morphed into doodling lately, but I did produce one small drawing on the train from Bournemouth to Coventry that gave me hope. At least it had some passing resemblance to the young man working on his laptop across the aisle from me…. but a long way from Lynne Chapman’s wonderful train sketches.
My painting and drawing class was cancelled as the tutor was ill, but we’ve been promised an extra class at the end of term. It’s one of the best classes I’ve been to, and I’ve tried a few. The ones that work for me are always those where I feel OK with the tutor. There is something very exposing about drawing when you are an enthusiastic but clueless beginner, and how the tutor relates to you is crucial.
There’s an obvious parallel here with the relationship between psychotherapist and new client. There needs to be a sense of ‘I could get on with this person’ right from the start, I think. We make a judgement about who we can get on with in a very short space of time – seconds – when we first meet someone. It’s not an infallible system and sometimes we get it wrong, but we all scan the other person for signs of familiarity or threat without even recognising that we are doing it. There’s a very good exercise that gets used in counselling training where a group of strangers walk around the room in silence, and are then asked to form small groups. There is no spoken communication, but what happens is that the strangers sort themselves into groups that have shared experiences – middle children, dominant mothers, absent fathers, only children, and so on. We sniff out the people we feel safe with, and we feel safe with what we know rather than the unknown.
My favourite drawing tutors have a sort of childlike passion for art that they want to share with the class. They are like bounding, energetic dogs, insisting that you take them for a walk and see how great it is out there. Age is irrelevant – one of the best tutors was in her 70’s and going deaf, but was so enthusiastic about the task in hand and my scratchy efforts that I was completely won over.
Does that work in psychotherapy, I wonder? Someone once said I was “evangelical” about group therapy, so if I take that to mean enthusiastic and passionate, then maybe it does. Why work anywhere that does not have those qualities of passion, energy, inspiration and creativity? Surely we would all choose that if we were able to?