Artistic Expression as a Part of Art Therapy

Either in conjunction with other techniques, or by itself, the combination of art and psychology can be very effective as a treatment. This is known as art therapy…
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One thing we have learned in our journey through the mental health issues that arose in our family due to the COVID pandemic is that there is more than one way to proceed with therapy. Many different approaches are available and should be explored. Over the past few months, we have talked about quite a few of these in this series of articles.

However, there is one very interesting method that we have not discussed yet, art therapy. Either in conjunction with other techniques, or by itself, the combination of art and psychology can be very effective as a treatment. This is even more pronounced with patients who may be apprehensive or have some difficulty expressing themselves verbally to a therapist.

A trained art therapist can gain much needed information from not only the actual artwork, but also by observing the symbolism contained within the art, as well as listening to the patient he or she is creating the work.

Throughout the process there will be opportunities for expressing feelings, gaining confidence, better understanding problems, and even enjoying a creative outlet in the midst of difficult times. All of this can help foster relax and reduce stress.

While almost any type of artistic approach can be incorporated into the therapy, but some of the more helpful and common pursuits are painting self-portraits or pictures of family members, sewing, creating ceramics or pottery, and making gifts.

All of these help the patient to gain confidence and improve coping skills, while allowing the therapist to analyze the symbolism within the artwork and to use the art as an opening for a conversation about the client’s problems.

Out of all these advantages, perhaps the most pronounced is stress reduction. Ideally the patient can relax and get lost in the creative process, even if it is only for a little while. There is no doubt that leaving the anxiety and troubles of day-to-day life behind has any number of advantages.

Managing stress can also lead to discovering new ways to deal with situations and finding the necessary strength to move forward with life. This can be especially helpful for those in dysfunctional families or abusive situations.

People with these in their background often have difficulty discussing those issues, which makes art therapy ideal because the patient doesn’t necessarily need to speak in order to express their feelings and anxieties.

Hopefully, some artistic people reading this may feel that art therapy could be a field of psychiatry that would be interesting to get involved in as a professional therapist. If so, BetterHelp.com has valuable information and advice that can help you make up your mind.

First and foremost, you need to have a passion for helping people. Add that to a knack for patiently listening and communicating clearly, along with a curiosity for psychology and human behavior, and you are ready to go.

Next, explore your educational opportunities and find a university that offers an Art Therapy Master’s Program. Then you can combine your artistic talent with a desire to guide people to discovering better mental health, and be on your way to an exciting new and incredibly rewarding career.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

For more about BetterHelp.com and their programs, please see these previous articles we have shared on GypsyNester.com:

Some Observations about Online Therapy

Anxiety is Almost Unavoidable These Days

Don’t Let the Cost Stop You from Seeking Help

Exploring the Different Types of Therapy

Identifying Problems in the Present with Cognitive Psychotherapy

Examining the Role of Geriatric Psychiatry as our Loved Ones are Aging

Analyzing the Information in Psychiatry Articles

Empty Nest Easter


An empty nest Easter doesn’t have to be sad. Celebrate your Life After Kids and have a happy and healthy holiday!
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An empty nest Easter doesn’t have to be like this:

Our first empty nest Easter ten years ago.

Because Spring has sprung and we just might be seeing the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.  So celebrate your Life After Kids and let’s all try to feel more like this:

Soaring over Machu Picchu.

Happy Easter Everybody!

It’s Cherry Blossom Time in Japan!

We hit Japan right at the peak of the cherry blossoms blooming. Known as sakura, the blooming trees have deep roots in Japanese culture…
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Cherry Blossoms flower outside of Nagasaki's Atomic Bomb Museum

In another of what seems to be a series of unbelievable bits of good timing we have encountered in our travels, we hit Japan right at the peak of the cherry blossoms blooming.

At our first stop, Nagasaki, we were enthralled by the flowering trees all around The Atomic Bomb Museum.

They helped add a quiet touch to the somber site advocating peace near the epicenter of the atomic bomb blast that devastated the city in 1945.

Cherry Blossoms flower outside of Nagasaki's Atomic Bomb Museum

Cherry blossom petals adorn the paths in Nagasaki

Cherry Blossoms flower outside of Nagasaki's Atomic Bomb Museum

The buds also thrive in the nearby park that marks ground zero.

The trees are a real tribute to recovery since scientists predicted that radioactive fallout wouldn’t allow plants to grow for seventy-five years.

More about beautiful, peaceful NagasakiCherry Blossoms flower outside of Nagasaki's Ground Zero Park

A woman creates a perfect rose out of ice cream in Nagasaki

We encountered an unexpected edible flower in the park, when a lady selling rose water ice formed a perfect bloom atop a cone for us.

She performed this artistic task in a matter of seconds.

More about beautiful, peaceful Nagasaki

WATCH: A work of art in seconds!

Cherry blossoms in Osaka, Japan!

Between Nagasaki and our next stop, Osaka, we looked into some of the history of the cherry blossom tradition in Japan.

Known as sakura, the blooming trees have deep roots in Japanese culture.

They do not produce fruit, which when we thought about it is most likely a good thing because if each of the blooms became a cherry… well that’s a lot of cherries!

Cherry blossoms in Japan

Instead, the trees have been cultivated for their flowers and are said to symbolize clouds or, because of the fact that the blooms only last about a week, mortality.

This brevity has associated the blossoms with the concept of mono no aware, literally translated as “the pathos of things,” a Japanese term for the awareness of the transience of life.

A bird's nest among the cherry blossoms in Osaka, Japan

A family picnicking under cherry blossoms in Osaka, Japan

On a lighter note, the Japanese people have embraced Hanami, the ancient tradition of picnicking under a blooming sakura tree.

The custom began over a thousand years ago with royalty, but has been adopted by everyone.

Over the centuries the cherry blossoms have become so iconic to the Japanese that they even used to plant the trees on conquered territories to show their authority over the new land.

On our arrival in Osaka, good fortune struck again when we discovered that our hotel was right across from The Expo Park. Built for the Japan World Exhibition of 1970, the park just happens to be listed as one of the top 100 places for viewing cherry blossoms in Japan.

See how we “ruined ourselves” in fabulous Osaka!

The Tower of the Sun in Osaka, Japan

The focal point of the park is the Tower of the Sun, by famous Japanese sculptor Okamoto Taro.

The crazy looking bird statue looms over two hundred feet above the park and has three faces.

Shockingly, the top face is not called “Satellite Dish Bird Face” as we were calling it. It is actually meant to represent the Sun of the Future, with the other face on the front representing the Sun of the Present, and on the back of the tower is the Sun of the Past.

Cherry Blossoms in Expo Park, Osaka, Japan

Cherry Blossoms in Osaka, Japan

But as famous as the tower is, it was definitely playing second fiddle to the flowers.

At least for this week while the sakura were at their peak.

Thousands of folks were flooding into the park and we didn’t see a single one of them take a photo of old satellite dish face.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

DELVE DEEPER:

See how we “ruined ourselves” in fabulous Osaka!

More about beautiful, peaceful Nagasaki

Check out all of our adventures in Japan!

YOUR TURN: Aren’t the cherry blossoms stunning? Were you as blown away by their history as we were?

The Best of Beautiful Barcelona


Beautiful Barcelona has so much to see and enjoy, but there are some things in the city that we think no visitor should miss.
Let’s take a look at a few of our favorites…
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Beautiful Barcelona has so much to see and enjoy, but there are some things in the city that we think no visitor should miss. Let’s take a look at a few of our favorites and some Barcelona Top Travel Tips.

If Barcelona’s heart is the old city’s Barri Gòtic, or Gothic Quarter, then the aorta must be La Rambla. The tree lined boulevard has become a sort of giant open-air theater and is now one of the world’s foremost settings for street performers.

But there is much more to it than that, the district is also home to several “don’t-miss” landmarks of the city. It is certainly worth a walk, especially since it is less than a mile from end to end.

We began at the famous Christopher Columbus Monument, which stands in the center of a circle by the waterfront. He was placed there for the Exposición Universal de Barcelona in1888 on what is said to be the spot where Columbus returned to Spain after his first voyage to the New World.

The famously confused captain is striking a stoic pose while gazing out over the Mediterranean, which strikes us as a bit strange. Shouldn’t he be looking west toward the Americas?

But we knew which way we were going, into the old town. La Rambla is great in and of itself, but several points of interest are just off the main street, such as the Plaça de George Orwell. Some are certainly worth a quick detour.

This seemed like a great spot for a cool drink and a quick bite of tapas, but when we asked our server why the square was named after the famous writer he didn’t know. This meant we were forced to check with Google. It turns out Orwell came to Barcelona in 1936 to fight in The Spanish Revolution, saying he had “come to Spain to join the militia to fight against Fascism.”

Across La Rambla from the little plaza there is a good, but small example of the work of the city’s most famous architect, Antoni Gaudí. The Palau Güell was built from 1886 to 1888 for the wealthy tycoon Eusebi Güell, but it is only a small taste of what was to come from Gaudí.

A little farther up we came to the Boqueria. This is perhaps Barcelona’s main market and dates back to 1217, when an open-air meat market sprang up near the city gate. The name is believed to come from the Catalan word for goat, boc. So, a boqueria would be a place where goat meat is sold.

Nowadays almost anything you might want to eat is available here, from bread, to fish, to cheese, to fruits and vegetables, and even flowers to dress up the table.

Another site worth stopping by is the Basílica de Santa Maria del Pi. Construction began over seven hundred years ago and the giant bell tower is one of the main landmarks of the Gothic Quarter.

La Rambla comes to an end at the Plaça de Catalunya, or Catalonia Plaza, which is often considered the unofficial dividing line between the old city and the new. This open square has several interesting statues, along with numerous cafés and restaurants, so it is a great spot to take a little break.

About a mile north of the plaza is what we came to think of as the highlight of Barcelona, the Sagrada Família.

This immense cathedral is without a doubt the ultimate masterpiece of architect and designer Antoni Gaudí’s extraordinary career.

One piece of advice, leave yourself plenty of time to enjoy it. We spent several hours just absorbing the entirety of the structure and came away fully convinced that this is the most incredible building we have ever seen.

It is safe to say that Barcelona simply would not be the city that it is if not for Antoni Gaudí, and many visitors spend days just taking in his creations. We were not quite that obsessed, but do feel it would be a shame to visit the city and not see at least a few of them.

So we walked over to the Park Güell and up several hundred steps into one of the world’s strangest parks. It was originally meant to be part of a housing development, but that failed to take off and it became something of a testing ground for some of the famed architect’s ideas. The result is somewhat surreal, but certainly enjoyable.

It is as if he created his own little world here, which could also be a way to describe the beautiful, breathtaking city of Barcelona.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

12 Must-See Festivals in the US

We LOVE a festival! Tag the word “fest” on the end of it and we’re there! Here are 12 of the wildest, wackiest, over-the-top or just plain fabulous celebrations that we’ve seen! We don’t know how many will be back after the pandemic, we certainly hope all of them, but any are worth a visit…CONTINUE READING >> 


We LOVE a festival! Tag the word “fest” on the end of anything and we’re there! Here are 12 of the wildest, wackiest, over-the-top or just plain fabulous celebrations that we’ve seen!

Bean Fest and Outhouse Races

Saggy Bottom Boys cooking up a mess of beans!

The aroma of beans and outhouses fill the mountain air — it’s time for the Bean Fest and Great Championship Outhouse Races.

When: Halloween-ish

Where:
Mountain View, Arkansas

Highlights:
Bean cook-off (attendees eat for free!), costumed booths, outhouse races, the best mountain music you will ever hear!
More info

Tulip Time

It's Tulip Time in Holland Michigan!

Eight decades of tulips. EIGHTY years. This is no amateur operation; this is serious stuff. It’s Tulip Time in Holland (Michigan), and when it comes to festivals, these people don’t mess around.

When: May

Where:
Holland, Michigan

Highlights:
A ridiculous amount of tulips, amazing authentic Dutch Dancing, fatballs, traditional costumes, the Wooden Shoe-Be-Do, street scrubbing, international music acts, three parades. More info

The Broom Corn Festival

The Lawn Rangers

We never expected to find a fest dedicated to something that we had never heard of… so there was no way we could pass up The Broom Corn Festival.

When: September

Where:
Arcola, Illinois

Highlights:
The Lawn Rangers precision lawn mowing team, The National Broom Sweeping Contest, broom making exhibit, Broom Corn Festival Parade, bacon dipped in chocolate. More info

The Courir de Mardi Gras

Courir de Mardi Gras

Courir de Mardi Gras, translates to Fat Tuesday Run and traces its origins back to medieval France and the feast of begging.

When: Fat Tuesday

Where:
Church Point, Louisiana

Highlights:
Dancing on horseback, early morning drinking, chicken chasing, tree climbing, drinking, great Cajun music, parade, drinking. More info

Oysterfest

Fulton Texas Oysterfest!

Oysterfest is an oyster-eatin’, beer-drinkin’, music-listenin’-to and two-steppin’ raucous good time.

When: March

Where:
Fulton, Texas

Highlights:
Raw oyster eating contest, live music, dancing, midway and rides, parade, booths. More info

The World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Where can you have the most fun in the shortest distance? The World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

When: St. Patrick’s Day

Where:
Hot Springs, Arkansas

Highlights:
Wacky celebrity Grand Marshalls, International Order of Irish Elvi, a kazoo marching band, bar hopping. More info

The Manatee Festival

Save the Manatee Club at the Manatee Festival

The Orange City / Blue Springs Manatee Festival has been raising funds and awareness for 28 years.

When: January

Where:
Orange City, Florida

Highlights:
Wildlife exhibits, craft booths, music, bus ride to Blue Springs State Park for manatee viewing. More info

Magic Week Festival

Colon, Michigan - Magic Capital of the World

The “Magic Capital of the World” is not where you’d think. Magic Week Festival is in a little burg of 1,200 people – with a surprising history of magical proportions.

When: August

Where:
Colon, Michigan

Highlights:
Magic shows, street magic, tours of magic shops, late night drinking in the bars with magicians. More info

Gullah Celebration

Gullah Breakfest, oyster stew, grits, whole fried fish

Gullah Celebration
commemorates the culture of the Gullah People of the Southeastern US Sea Islands, past and present.

When: March

Where:
Hilton Head, South Carolina

Highlights:
Gullah Ooman (woman) Kitchen, Freedom Day Parade, Ol’ Fashion Gullah Breakfast, liturgical dancing, demonstrations, historical lectures. More info

The Dungeness Crab Fest

Crabfest in Port Angeles, Washington

On the northern coast of Washington, the The Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival is definitely the place to be for any decapod-chowing seafood lover.

When: October

Where:
Port Angeles, Washington

Highlights:
Grab-a-crab Derby, Crab Feed, food vendors, located in the town where Twilight‘s Bella bought her prom dress. More info

Testicle Festival

Testicle Festival in Clinton, Montana

The Testicle Festival celebrates the Rocky Mountain Oyster, is not for the kiddies, and no doubt could not go on within the city limits.

When: August

Where:
Clinton, Montana

Highlights:
Eating Rocky Mountain Oysters, using inappropriate adjectives, drinking, drinking, and a bit more drinking. More info

The Marathon Seafood Festival

The seafood at the Marathon Seafood Fest

The Marathon Seafood Festival features amazing, fresh local seafood slung out of booths on paper plates for dirt cheap.

When: March

Where:
Marathon Key, Florida

Highlights:
Eating, music, art booths, watching kids crash into each other in giant bubbles. More info

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

YOUR TURN: Have you been to any of these? Which would be first on your list? Any that we’ve missed?