Episode Focus: Tooling up

Creativity: About my own creative project

Podcast chat:Kapiti-based neurotherapist Corinne Allan

Productivity: Selecting your champions and support team

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Podcast chat with Corinne Allan

Art Therapist, Sensory Integration and Neuro therapist Corinne Allan specializes in providing therapy support for children with Neurodiversity like, Sensory Processing Disorder,  Autism, Asperger, ADD, ADHD, Global Developmental Delay, complex learning difficulties and behavioural difficulties as well teenagers and adults which experience metal health issues like Social Anxiety, Depression or low self-esteem or may need support to heal from grieve and loss or abusive relationships.  In our chat today we’re talking about using art therapy to regulate emotions and using the colour diagnostic tool to identify personality traits. 

image: Kapiti Neurotherapy

My podcast chat with Corinne was jam-packed with insights and information about Corinne’s work. We only had time for about half of the chat in the podcast itself, but you can read the full transcript from our conversation below.

Podcast chat transcript

Jordan: Corinne, welcome to the podcast.

Corinne: Thank you very much for having me.

Jordan: Corrine, you’re an art therapist and a neurotherapist and you work to help children, teenagers and adults improve their wellbeing. What does a typical day look like for you when you’re working with clients?

Corinne: Usually I have in the morning clients in the neuro therapy. So between nine and 12, I see three clients and in the afternoon I have two clients in art therapy.

 I create an individual  therapy plan for each client. The sessions are designed to help with overcoming motor difficulties, overcoming problems with reading, social interaction, social behaving or anger management. So there’s always a learning part.  I use sensory integration modalities so children can learn to experience a wide range of emotions in a safe and loving environment. Once the children have learned to regulate their emotions, this learned behaving can be integrated at home or in the school environment.

The session in itself will always look very similar. So the first twenty minutes is always learning – where we work with a speech computer, we work with balance beans or fine motor skills activities. Then we have twenty minutes of physical activity where we may use the nest swing to help with the proprioceptive system. t depends what the child needs. And the last twenty minutes is then relaxation where we  turn down the lights. The sensory room allows children to calm down their nervous system; they can also use the weight blankets to experience deep muscle pressure which helps them to calm their mind and body. The children lie on the bed, they have weight blankets or weighted animals. They can choose the bubble tube, the water tube. They can see like a dolphin film or they can choose what they want for their relaxation. 

images: Kapiti Art Therapy

toJordan: Wow. And what does art therapy offer people?

Corinne: Art therapy gives a client a chance to express their emotions in a nonverbal way.

We don’t expect you to be an artist, we know you’re not going to have a fine art degree. So it’s nothing to do with the artistic abilities in itself. It has to do with being in an environment where we can try new things, where we can have an open mind and go, ‘oh, I never done that’. How to approach that, how to deal with my insecurities and to come away from our peace of mind.

So many people are overstimulated and a lot of people have a tendency to overthink or being very analytical. And they sometimes think about a problem five, 20 times, without actually taking the step of actually doing something. 

When we are creative and work with our hands, we start to relax, our body releases stress through our hands and feeds. When we are working with our hands engage in art, baking or gardening our body and mind starts to relax, this allows us to get in touch with our emotions and we can start to communicate our thoughts.

If we can express our emotions in a safe and loving environment I can help my clients to overcome emotional blockages which have affected them for a long time.

My art therapy room is in a tree house. It’s surrounded by trees – I believe the closer to nature, the better it is. It has a healing effect in itself. The products I use, like the pastels, are made out of earth pigments which are either mixed with an oil binder or with a water binder. So they are chemical free as well for children with highly sensitive skin.

The clay we use is earth clay and is made in New Zealand and it’s very beautiful to work. And we know for children, teenagers and adults for trauma recovery, clay is very good, because the clay is like a body and we need to be gentle with the clay. And every pressure we put down changes the form of the clay so it’s something we can work very beautiful with.

Art therapy is really designed to help you to let go of past events. If something has really impacted you, and if you haven’t dealt with it, the problem won’t go away. But if you can learn to let go of past events, it frees you up to enjoy life in a different way. And it goes into positive self talk. It goes into colour meditation. It goes into how to approach something out of our comfort zone, into building self-confidence.

Many children come to me and say to me, I’m not good at school I can’t write, read and working with numbers gives me a sore tummy. And I can see how the learning difficulties at school has impacted their self- confidence.

And I start to work with them in the Art Therapy, and two hours later the same child walks happy with a wonderful art piece out of the Art Therapy and is so proud of his work and his/her achievements and likes to show it to his parents and the child walks away with a newfound passion and confidence.

If this positive experience is repeated often enough, the child internalises this experience and changes his negative self-talk, this creates a change reaction of positive thoughts and lead to confidence and new positive self-awareness.

We have a lot of children with neurodiversity, who struggle with everyday structural things, or with social interaction or academic learning. But quite often they are hugely talented and very gifted in the creative area. I have a young person who I’ve worked with for a few years. She’s now at college and we have over the last two years put her portfolio together showcasing her pop art, soft pastels and water colour techniques. And, you know, that really can help to grow into a graphic design or any other job. If you kind of go, ‘oh, I have the confidence to try things out, I have the confidence to explore’.

And creativity leads to creative thinking. Creative thinking leads to problem solving and problem solving leads to emotional intelligence and emotional intelligence is really everything. How do I deal with my emotions and how do I deal with other people’s emotions?

 Jordan: Now you also use colour diagnostics as a tool. How does that work?

Corinne: Colour diagnostic is a very interesting tool. In New Zealand, the clinical diagnostics are very comprehensive and quite often very challenging for children with global developmental delay or autism. They have to do puzzles, they have to do writing, they have to do sequences, they have to do numbers. It’s a lot of work.

The Max Lutcher Colour Diagnostic has been designed by Dr Max Lutcher. He was a Swiss physiotherapist and he did this study in 1947, while he was pursuing his doctorate in study of psychology. And in 1980, the Lutcher Colour Diagnostic test was released, it won the Nobel Prize and is today used in 54 countries.

It is a deep psychological test. You have eight colours, and out of those eight colours, there are five thousand fifteen possible definitions coming out. And the colour diagnostic test can can show highlight 23 personality traits.

Colours are always chosen unconsciously. So if a person might go to Farmers and say ‘I love this orange soft jumper’ and buy it and wear it for six weeks and absolutely love it. And then one day she might put it in the cupboard and never wear it again.

And that’s because unconsciously she chose what she needed. So the colour orange is the colour of comfort. Pumpkin soup or fire represents comfort. And unconsciously, this person has given herself comfort. And when she didn’t need it anymore, the response to the jumper changed. So she didn’t need it anymore. 

The colour diagnostic shows both the cause of stress and the underlying issue which causes the stress. So Max Lutcher, also wrote The Four Colour Person. It’s a very interesting book exploring the idea that every person has four colours. One colour represents the environment, one colour represents a family, one colour represents intellectual knowledge, and one colour represents personalities.

Colours are visual emotions. That’s what they are. So we can read emotions out of paintings and in colour psychology.

Everybody who does branding knows colour psychology. So the colour dark blue, which we often see in pictures in the church where Mary had dark blue coat on, is the colour of trust. And that’s why real estate agents and the National Bank will use this dark blue and unconsciously, we understand it.

So a person could lose trust, maybe at work where they’ve been bullied or overpowered. They have lost the colour blue and maybe the colour blue has manifested itself in the body. Each organ has a colour, too. So the colour blue is in the lungs. If this person would then have constant bronchitis and and coughs, it may be the person on the psychological side starts to be controlling and micromanaging because of the loss of trust. Then psychologically, she’s in the colour blue too. And if this person would develop a depression, the colour that is blue too, so then we would say that this person has the overuse of blue. She’s blue in the body. She’s blue emotionally. She’s blue psychologically. Mentally, it has started to affect her. 

Not everybody want to talk about the feelings, but we can trick the brain, because every colour we use goes through the eyes in our brain. The opposite colour of blue is yellow. Most people know that yellow is the colour of the daffodils, the colour of the sun, the colour of happiness. So we can consciously paint with yellow, we can consciously eat yellow pineapples, we can have yellow flower pots and our windowsills. We could wear a yellow shawl, a yellow necklace. And each time that we sees this colour, it goes into the brain and the brain gives you a positive feedback. It’s called neurofeedback. 

And so therefore in the art therapy, we can stimulate positive emotions. We can use colours for biofeedback as well because the body understand colour very well.

Jordan: That’s just fascinating. Now, you recently came to one of my workshops here in my studio here in Kapiti, and you spoke about birth colours. What is the best way for people to understand their birth colours and have an idea about how that understanding can help their sense of self and sense of well-being?

Corinne: The birth colours are based on a chart which called the Bernhart Colour Calender, which every day of the month has a colour and every colour has two hundred variations.

My colour is turqoise. The colour turquoise comes out of blue (trust) and yellow (happiness).  It’s a colour for people who are generally creative in practical way; builders or woodworkers, for example.  Leonardo da Vinci was was born in turquoise.

So, during a therapy session, we can have a look at the colour wheel, I ask for your birthday and then we find the colour. So maybe you’re born in the colour pink.

And then for about two hours we use red and white or we make very, very different ways pink and we paint on a huge piece of paper. We make marks and we we mix lots and lots of different pink, soft pink pastel pinks and dark pinks, bright pinks, warmer pinks, colder pinks.

And then there comes a point where the person says, oh, really love this colour. I’m really drawn to this colour. And then I go get my book, which explores what that colour resembles. And from there we can go deeper into your natural talents. 

images: Kapiti Art Therapy

Jordan: Wonderful. Now you also use light stimulation therapy. How does that work and what are the benefits?

Corinne: Well, light stimulation really goes into the same part we just talked about. Colour has a beautiful impact. We have a light table and we sit down with the child or the adult, and do different activities. So I always start with blue because I know everybody can tolerate it. But some children want red or orange or yellow. And then I give them a task and I monitor how long they stay in the colour.

Blue is the colour which helps them to focus and to calm down. We have eight colours, as we have in music octaves. So with those eight colours we have ten different brightness levels. And some people find their colour and they then don’t want to go and do something else. They want to be there. They’re so engaged.

We can also touch the table. Colours actually have vibrations like sound and people with trauma or children which have experienced a traumatic event always use low frequency colours like brown and grey.  Healthy people who are really happy and have good self talk and are engaged with themselves and have learnt to forgive themselves use bright colours. And if you’re not well you can’t tolerate those high frequency colours.

Jordan: Wow, so much amazing information there. If you had one tip for people when it came to balancing daily life, which can be hectic and challenging and and so on, and personal well-being, what would it be?

Corinne: Drink lots and lots of water every day. Use your body every day. Go out into nature every day, for at least for an hour. Trust yourself, trust your feelings, trust your intuition. Love yourself. You don’t need to be perfect to be loved. Forgive yourself for mistakes. See it as a learning opportunity  and say, what have I done to reflect on it and see how can I improve it?

Don’t buckle up emotions. Open up about emotions, ask for help, ask for support and give support if needed. Stop spending time on social media at six o’clock. Turn social media off, have a nice dinner, have a nice bath or do something with your free time. Have a good support system around you. Have a positive self talk. Paint, use colours. everywhere you can. Do learn to breathe and sleep lots. And if you do all of that, you’re probably going to be alright.

Jordan: A great prescription for a good life. Thank you Corinne

Corinne: Thank you very much for having me.

More about Corinne: 

If you’re interested in finding out more about Corinne and her work, you can find her through the links below.

Websites: www.neurotherapy.nz/ and https://www.kapitiarttherapy.com/

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