Educación, Psicología & Ciencia

Using Graphic Facilitation: A Short Story

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  • This post is a try to show you (and convince myself) that psychologists are not such boring. We also do some creative stuff (sometimes).

I started getting interested about Graphic Facilitation two years ago, in non formal education contexts. Maybe because I am definitely an “art lover”, I found in art a tool for therapy. I bought some books related with “art therapy practice” and also I gathered a few articles (scientific articles about creativity and brain – cognitive science), in United Kingdom. This beautiful country recognizes Art Therapy as specialization (British Association of Art Therapists), but unfortunately this is not happening in other countries in Europe (like in Spain).


The painting I used to decorate my blog. «This thing with geometry«

It is hard to say that we use art in Clinical Psychology (because we should be focus on DSM-5), nor in Educational Psychology (because we should be focus on IQ and cognitive processes). So, if you make art in my context, you are regarded as an “artist” (bigger word than clinical something, in my humble opinion).

I found in non-formal education a perfect space where my interest of art and education seemed to fit perfectly. Here I am. I just want to be clear in front of you about my limitations as an Artist or Artist Therapist, because simply I really admire the people who have these abilities and experience backing them.


Illustration used in Storytelling Workshop

During the last training in Poland, we implemented Graphic Facilitation and also Art (painted cards) in our sessions. I have been using cards and pencils from the first beginning when I started to work with people (children with special needs or learning disabilities, and then I transferred this method to educational counseling).

I also have been exposed to art in my lifetime, because I consider that my parents are very talented in design, music or gardening (yes, other day I will talk about the art of roses). For some reason, during my travels or experiences abroad I met a lot of artists from different fields, as theater, photography, design, musicians… etc, with who I shared time and experiences. One year ago, a Publishing House offered me the opportunity to write a handbook related with Communication and Art Performance, therefore “- I AM IN!”.


Sketch used during my sessions

In my experience, one of the easier ways to implement art in sessions is introducing creativity inside the communication process. Let´s say when a person feels blocked or for some reason he or she doesn´t want to collaborate or feels unable to open up to other person, a sheet of paper and a simple pencil make a difference.

I also noticed the presence of the same kind of charts, graphics or paintings over and over, for example a staircase to show process, a line to show measure, a hole to show fears, mountains etc.

Using painted cards as a bridge between us

Recently I have been working with a youngster with learning troubles (lack of performance) and aggressive behavior at home. It is very difficult to sit in front of other person who doesn´t accept your help, or doesn´t understand how other person can provide help.
In this session I used printed illustrations and a few markers. I made a copy of each illustration because we painted on them. These are not my paintings; I am planning in a future to design my own cards. I added to my folder different illustrations that could be useful for the session (as we always plan beforehand the objectives ).

–  Here´s a sample that I really loved.


Card 10: A bridge between us (Art by Billelliottecreative)

– Why do you want to help? Who cares about it?
What do you mean?
– You call me, you write emails…
Why are you still coming here?
– Because I see you make the effort, so I don´t want to look like stupid or ungrateful…
I see… Why do you think that I want to help you?

– I don´t know…
Today I brought new things, just in case you want to collaborate…
– Which things? Test? I don´t want to do more test…
Only cards……
– Cards?
Yes, our job will be to choose a card and talk about the card… just say something. Here I have all cards, so I will start. Are you ready?

[After some time]

– Could you tell me which similarities do you find between these cards? (a painter, a writer, a builder and a farmer making wine)
– They are doing something…
They are “creating-building” something – right?
– Yes…
Are we now building something?
– I don´t know what to answer…
Okay… now I will choose other card (The Bridge). What do you see here?
– A bridge …
Could you be more descriptive… what more? Tell me about the place, the colors, what the image tells you…
– I am talking a lot today…
Yes, you do
– It is a bridge, seems like this famous bridge … […] the colors are beautiful, I think the painter used watercolors […] Yes, I like it, it is inspiring …
Great. What do you think about the engineer who designed that bridge?
– I don´t know him…
It doesn´t matter, imagine that you do… – Say something!
– He is talented and clever …
Could he build the bridge alone?
– No… he had to work with a lot of people probably… with …
Great. What would happen if the bridge breaks down?
– It would be a disaster … People could die…
It is a lot of responsibility then… for him or for everybody who collaborated?
– For everybody, but specially him…
Let´s come back to us… are we building something?
– Maybe, because I will learn something…
Great. That´s really fantastic. I want you to understand something about why I want to help you. For me, you represent that building – Understand? Because this is my job, this is what I learned to do, so if the bridge breaks down I fail too… but I cannot do this alone, I need your help and effort too. – What do you think?
– I never thought I could be a bridge… such bridge.
You have to do it by your own; it is your responsibility … your life. I think you are ready to start doing some things, change attitudes…
– But, what if I fail?

[Other card]


Bird Cage Illustration. Unknown.

– Well, actually it would be  normal because we are humans … But



Thanks for reading. If you want to say something… just feel free to say something!

Enjoy the week 🙂

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Autor: Lorena Álvarez

Psicóloga, activista, trotamundos y una apasionada por la ciencia y las letras.

2 pensamientos en “Using Graphic Facilitation: A Short Story

  1. e aquilo que acontece … quem são os artistas dizem que não são!
    mas a realidade é diferente!!!!

    saudade minha amiga

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