In January 2014 the Japanese Society of Homeopaths invited my partner and I to present our work in Tokyo. As a medical doctor and homeopath, Dr. Brian Kaplan lectured on his specialist subject on how to take a homeopathic case history while I was invited to run a workshop on art therapy.
In homeopathy, the physician or homeopath takes detailed case histories that include psychological factors as well as physical symptoms and dis-ease. An interesting way to encourage the patient to tell his or her story is to invite them to make ‘a simple image of your self as a tree’. Clearly this is not art therapy but inviting people to make images, regardless of artistic ability, and without judgement, allows something authentic to be expressed.
The image of the tree is full of metaphor – growth, scale, shape, colour, the different seasons, its’ inhabitants, shelter, family of trees and more. The homeopath is invited to use the tree image as a catalyst for a compassionate discussion with the patient to reflect on some themes occurring in the patient’s inner world. The image is used to stimulate an enquiring conversation allowing the patient a way to express some of the difficulties he or she may be facing.
My presentation focussed on sharing some skills in this approach, offering an experiential workshop for a subjective experience, and to guide the participants in how this can work in the medical setting.
Here are some of the tree images: