Flying by the Light of the Moon

Art Therapy and Attunement

The phrase ‘Fly by Night Work’ appeared to me in a dream.

It spoke of intuitive aspects of the art therapist’s journey with clients, in particular, clients living with deep dementia.

bird moon art Sally Swain

Night Flying Work
Sally Swain © original art

The client might no longer be

able to form words.

They might have experienced multiple losses – of their home, their spouse, of anything familiar, of their memory, their perceptions of the edges of things, even their sense of self.

The art therapist attunes subtly and attentively to her felt sense of this person – to non-verbal cues – to the person’s presence and very being.

The art therapist does not fly blind,

yet she flies in the dark, by the light of the moon.

If she tunes in carefully, respectfully, listening for the life force in each person, she will begin to make out shapes, textures, feelings and capacities, even in the dark. The art therapist will be able to support preservation of existing cognitive and physical abilities, foster emotional well-being and encourage a sense of agency, personal power and meaning.

With night vision, the art therapist might even help the client bring forth creative connection and spiritual growth.


bird moon art therapy

Night Flying Work
Sally Swain © original art

I invite you to view Night Flying Work in the flesh, wool and paint.

It’s to be included in an exhibition: Art Therapists on Art Therapy.

You are welcome to join us at opening night or beyond. 

Exhibition opens Wednesday 12th October, 2016
at Chrissie Cotter Gallery, Pidcock St, Camperdown.

Art Therapists on Art Therapy exhibition Chrissie Cotter Gallery Camperdown, Sydney opens Wednesday 12th October, 2016

Art Therapists on Art Therapy exhibition
Chrissie Cotter Gallery
Camperdown, Sydney
opens Wednesday 12th October, 2016


4 thoughts on “Flying by the Light of the Moon

  1. What a wonderful way to acknowledge Mental Health month. My first reaction to your painting was a memory of the beautiful harvest moon this month. And then I thought of the song ” Fly me to the Moon.” Do you use music during art therapy? Does music therapy use art?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Gallivanta, for your thoughtful, heartful response.
      I do indeed use music during art therapy. Particularly when working in aged care. Lucky me – I’ve always liked songs from the 20s, 30s and 40s. Perfect for working with 90 somethings! Not all art therapists choose to use music, which I think is fine. It can be a distraction from creating a deeply quiet space for clients to be present with their art-making. Often, there’s a wonderful quality of silence when people are thoroughly engaged.
      On the other hand, in aged care, music can be an excellent pathway to connecting with self and creativity in art therapy.
      Oh! Makes me think I should blog about this. Turns out I have more to say than I realised.
      Thank you for catalysing me.

      Liked by 1 person

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