My husband, Prosad, and I stopped by to visit with my friend, colleague and mentor Bruce Tobin (Phd) the other day for what turned into a 4hr chat.
This man is full of intention!
We covered music as therapy, art as therapy, some tips from his 30 years of guiding Breathwork … and so much more. Perhaps most compelling, because of his latest advancements in the political frontier, are his thoughts on the legalization of the ethical use of psychedelic medicine in counselling for the purpose of healing. (Please note that he will not be a part of any psychedelic-assisted therapy until he is given the full legal go-ahead).
I met Bruce in 2012 when he was a supervisor at BC Families in Transition and then volunteered with him a few years, assisting with Breathwork day-longs that followed the Psychedelics in Psychotherapy Forum. Bruce taught art therapy at UVic for 25 years, had a psychotherapy private practice for 30, and he wrote the book “Expressive Therapies Now”. He’s down to earth, scientific-minded and heart-centered.
In the little time I have spent with Bruce I’ve learned a lot from him about the process of therapy. One thing that popped out for me in our conversation was that he said that we’re probably doing way too much talking in therapy. People are often already overly verbal. This is why he believes so much in art therapy. It slows things down. He spoke about how some people often even speak quite articulately about their issues but when they speak about a feeling, they often pass over it without really feeling it at all. Drawing some aspect of the problem can allow you to zoom in or out, shifting from an intellect grasp of the issue to the more subconscious layers involved in what’s going on.
This is also where his interest in the future of psychedelic therapy comes into play, particularly in some cases where people have practiced breathwork and other avenues first, and continue to feel “stuck”.
Non-ordinary states have played a role in all ancient cultures, whether through drumming, chanting, rhythmic dancing, or social isolation, or ingestion of psychedelic plants. As a rule of thumb, any creative practice that “gets you in the zone” will likely serve to re-wire stress patterns. Non-ordinary states of consciousness bring hope for direct paths to healing because they shift us from a more “Egoic” state, disarming us, penetrating past our defenses, revealing truth that is otherwise hidden.
In couple’s work, Bruce said that he uses art therapy to have each member of the couple remember themselves as sovereign individuals. His first session is often splitting them up and asking them both to “draw the problem”. If they have a wildly different idea of the problem, then they have a whole other problem. Another interesting insight he shared was that couples are so often “working” on their relationship. “What about having FUN?” he said.
Couple’s counselling, can help you sort through your thoughts, beliefs and feelings, and explore or tackle any communication challenges, but we must make sure to make time for integration too … do things differently. I trust you have your own unique ways of finding flow, but I’d suggest time in nature, adventure, and lots of laughs together as good overall goals!
Art is an immediate bridge between the conscious and unconscious.
If you are ever looking for a caring and skilled Art Therapist, I got your back! A good friend of mine, Diana Newman, is trained in Expressive Arts Therapy and she’s always unraveling falsities and opening up the mind with her art!
Here’s one of my favourite paintings of hers that she called “Another Dimension” and the poem she wrote to accompany it:
Open your eyes
Open your mind
Feel what’s around
The cascading waterfalls of acidic ecstasy
are right here in front of you
Where nothing is dead and gone
Where everything exists
And is forever alive
Nothing can be taken away from you
Open yourself to the real world birthing through you